Technology aiding advocacy
By Mayuka Sarukkai, ’19 (Symbolic Systems)
The landlord won’t remove lead paint from the walls – which means health problems for the kids, which means frequent hospital visits, which means no time to work, which means we can’t pay rent, which means we’re being evicted. This is the story recounted by one woman over a housing hotline, but the vicious cycle of landlord abuse and displacement is a narrative shared by countless tenants who are facing the overwhelming reality of gentrification in New York City.
My summer fellowship at JustFix.nyc, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit creating technological tools to fight for housing justice, was a deep dive into this tangled world of housing in NYC. Over the course of nine weeks, I worked on building – from outreach to user research to design to deployment – a new online referral directory designed to provide targeted referrals to best-match legal service providers and community advocates for these tenants facing housing crises. This summer was the first time I truly felt I had access to an arsenal of tools and experiences to bridge real human stories and intentional product development, and to understand what it really means to work at the intersection of humans and computation to create a positive community impact.
Interested in spending a summer doing public service? Find out more about Cardinal Quarter.