A Letter to Our Users
I’ve spent the last 17 years building Affordable Housing Online into the most complete and up-to-date database of affordable housing assistance information available online.
We research and publish information on virtually every Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher waiting list in the country before it opens. We have alerted tens of millions of low-income Americans to upcoming waiting list openings, and tens of thousands of our users have gotten onto waiting lists and received housing assistance as a result of our research.
Last month (July 2018), we received more visitors than any month in our history, with 1.3 million visitors coming to our site to research housing opportunities. On our platform in July 2018 alone, nearly 82,000 renter inquiries were sent to thousands of subsidized rental properties. Clearly, there is an enormous demand for our housing research.
But, we’ve unfortunately reached a plateau in the amount of housing information we are able to get into the hands of our users. All the data we provide is painstakingly researched by our own researcher team. All of our researchers are trained in the basics of affordable housing policy and understand the various differences between housing programs and policies. A talented research team is expensive to operate, and for that reason, the amount of information we can publish is limited under our existing business model.
Affordable Housing Online is a mission-based, for-profit business that I founded in 2001. We have never received $1 of grant funding for our work. We receive no support from the government, though we provide more complete and timely housing information than HUD or any other government source and we serve more low-income renters than any government funded and supported housing website.
Right now, we have seven researchers and writers that publish the valuable data you use every day. I want to quadruple the size of our research team to 30 researchers and writers. I want to improve the quantity and quality of our data by:
- Giving you more waiting list alerts for more affordable housing programs and sending those alerts to you even sooner;
- Providing you with waiting list details like how many people are currently on the list, and when it might open in the future for every housing authority waiting list in the country;
- Providing more information on Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher portability and absorption options;
- Tracking waiting list openings for tens of thousands of subsidized apartment communities;
- Publishing available single home and apartment rentals by landlords that accept Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers;
- Making it easier for you to find the housing opportunities that your family is eligible for.
I’ve decided the best way to expand our services to you is to offer premium subscriptions to our users. Our website will still be free for you to use, but there will now be a limit on how much information can be read for free, similar to how many online newspapers operate today. No full-page is hidden behind the paywall. Only individual parts of some pages will be hidden to non-premium users.
This is the content that will now require a subscription for unlimited views:
- Details on how to apply to Public Housing Agency waiting list openings (Section 8, Public Housing, etc…);
- Contact information and instructions on how to apply to a waiting list for affordable rental apartment communities; and;
- Waiting list information and rental applications for apartment communities.
Non-premium users will still be able to view a limited amount of this information. Each month, non-premium users will receive 3 credits to view these premium content blocks. Once a non-premium user has read 3 free content blocks, they will have to subscribe or wait until next month to view more.
The following content will remain free to all users:
- Waiting list details for closed Public Housing Agency waiting lists (Section 8, Public Housing, etc…);
- Public Housing Agency profiles;
- Apartment community pictures, rents, waiting list status and descriptions;
- City, county, and state pages detailing affordable housing resources in the area;
- Blog posts on important housing news relevant to you;
- Our advocacy system that is your tool to let your Congressperson know your concerns about affordable housing;
- Informative tools like the Housing Scam Prevention Guide, comprehensive Affordable Housing Guide for Renters and the Source of Income Discrimination guide;
- Email alerts of upcoming waiting list openings and closings.
We’ve put a lot of research and thought into a fair price for our premium content that low-income families can afford. We conducted multiple surveys on our website over the last year to explore what features are most important and what price is reasonable.
We have settled on a monthly subscription price of $5.95, with quarterly (3 months for $14.95) and annual (12 months for $49.95) options for those users who know they want this service for a longer term at a reduced price.
We know that some of you might not be happy with our decision to start charging for some of our best research, and we understand why. Low-income families are already financially strapped. That’s why we spent so much time and attention on customer research to determine what price would be fair and affordable while providing us with adequate revenue to increase the quality of the data we can provide to you.
I encourage you to let me know your thoughts on the subject.
If you are able, I hope you will decide to support our efforts to provide more housing opportunity data to you by subscribing today at https://my.affordablehousingonline.com
Affordable Housing Online