ImpactAlpha, March 26 – About one in four Americans struggle to find housing they can afford. A typical applicant for an affordable housing unit in the U.S. can spend up to 10 years on the waitlist – and can lose their place in line for failing to update their application via postal mail. At the same time, regulations can make affordable housing property managers struggle for weeks to fill vacant units.
Haven Connect, based in Austin, Tex., raised $2.4 million to help tenants apply online and ease the process for managers, who manage some 5.5 million units nationally. Applicants can now submit, and keep up-to-date, applications through the firm’s online platform. Property managers can screen tenants more efficiently and navigate the regulations to more quickly fill units.
“We’re working to get more people into affordable housing faster,” Haven Connect’s Caroline Caselli told ImpactAlpha. Caselli had worked in a San Francisco homeless shelter and witnessed too many low-income and homeless housing applicants lose their spot on the waitlist by failing to respond to an annual postal mail-based inquiry of continued interest. “Haven Connect’s mission is to increase access to housing for every American.”
Haven Connect’s seed round attracted a mix of traditional and impact venture capitalists and angel investors. Deciens Capital, a San Francisco-based fintech investor, led the round, which was joined by EO Ventures, a new impact fund started by Greylock Partners’ Bill Helman, Combine VC and impact angel investors from Austin Impact Capital and SV2.
Haven Connect was part of the first cohort of Techstars Impact’s Austin-based accelerator (see, “Techstars looks for startups to help mitigate mounting social and environmental risks“). Currently, the firm operates in California, New York and Texas, covering 5400 units, including those operated by two of the top 10 affordable housing managers in the U.S. With the funding, the firm aims to grow the number of units covered to 30,000.