Rental housing
3:44 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Website links needy renters with affordable rentals

Finding a place to rent can be a hassle.  If you don’t have much money,  it’s even more difficult.

Now, a new website, HousingSearchNW.org,  provides help in locating reasonably priced housing  in King County. The website is a free service for tenants and landlords. It's been in operation a little over a month and is averaging about 12,000 searches a week.

Virginia Felton, with the Seattle Housing Authority, one of the sponsors of the site, says it's much better than the old scatter shot approach for low income families. She says, in the past, they had to contact each non-profit provider directly to see what was available.

“Where this is one source where people can find not only what the organizations are that provide housing, but what’s actually vacant. It’s really live in-time housing,” she said.

Price is just one aspect

Felton emphasizes that the website isn’t just for people who are low income. There are a wide variety of listings in various price ranges. Users can sort by things like price, accessibility and whether pets are allowed. Many listings include photos as well. 

The site is run by a national non profit group, Socialserve.com, which has set up similar sites in 31 states. While Socialserve.com doesn't thoroughly vet each listing, Felton says if there is a problem they take action.

For example, on the site one landlord was charging  particularly high application fees.

“So they (Socialserve.com) looked into it further and found out that the unscrupulous landlord was simply charging application fees and not ever renting the apartment so that one came down,” Felton said.

In addition to the Seattle Housing Authority and King County Housing Authority, the Tenants Union, the Puget Sound Rental Housing Association and affordable housing developers in the county helped launch the new website. 

Check it out at HousingSearchNW.org or call a toll-free, multi-lingual call center for assistance: 1-877-428-8844, Monday through Friday, 6a.m. to 5p.m. Pacific Time.