Our Prototyping Journey
How we are testing our idea
Elk Grove will engage landlords, property managers, prospective renters and applicants to test a universal standardized rental application process. It will focus on the automated application process specifically for (but not limited to) low-income residents.
Our idea will positively impact renters and landlords by cutting the time they spend on applications and the cost of applying and reviewing them.Sarah Bontrager, Housing and Public Services Manager
What we're discovering through testing
Originally, the Elk Grove team thought that their rental application system would do everything (such as creating the lease and taking payments). As they have moved through the testing process, they are getting a better understanding of their user’s needs, as well as understanding what’s viable. The team is focusing more on their core proposition: making a positive introduction between the landlord and the applicant, and ensuring the application process does this well.
Originally, the team focused on incentivizing landlords to take on tenants with bad history. But the incentives they prototyped didn’t quite land as expected. They found that although some incentives can help (for example, double deposits or eviction insurance), in other cases, they could have the reverse effect. Landlords placed importance on how people behaved when they came to the property - noticing, for example, whether they wiped their feet. It has emerged that the project may benefit by incorporating support for tenants on how to present themselves.
The idea started as this big, hairy thing, but it’s on a leash now and it’s tamed a little bit. Next we get it to walk, then run, then do some tricks.Christopher Jordan, Assistant to the City Manager
What we've learned
After successfully improving their idea through the test and learn approach, the city has since set up a new department for Strategic Planning and Innovation within the City Manager’s office. The purpose of the new department is to take the lessons from the Mayor’s Challenge and exponentially spread the skill set throughout the organization. Christopher Jordan, a core team member who started the project as an assistant to the City Manager, has been named director of the department.
Elk Grove will develop an online rental portal targeted towards low-income and credit-challenged renters. Through testing, Elk Grove's idea shifted away from offering landlord incentives, and towards providing educational resources for renters.