Zillow has awarded a team of college students a $20,000 prize for their inventive affordability app concept presented at the HBCU Housing Hackathon event which the portal company sponsored.
Drawing over 150 college students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the virtual event saw student development teams build out ideas to help at-risk renters and struggling first-time buyers.
Four students from Morehouse College won first place and $20,000 for their program that uses machine learning to predict increases in rent and utility costs at a particular address over time, offering renters early warning about looming affordability challenges.
"It's awesome to conceptualize a project that could help a lot of people and not only win this hackathon and receive prizes that are great for my team, but also help earn a donation for our college," said Paul Lockett, a member of the winning Househouse team and Computer Science student.
Runner up prizes went to the team that came up with 'ZPlan', a program that gives out tailored advice, and to the 'ZInvest' team for their concept marketplace where users can invest in real estate at a lower price point using blockchain technology.
"We are incredibly impressed with the ingenuity, passion and leadership the students showed at Zillow's HBCU Housing Hackathon," said Aldona Clottey, Zillow vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility and one of the judges. "It was inspiring to see everyone dig into this challenge and bring their perspective on solutions to some of the problems people face when it comes to renting, buying or selling a home. These students showed us that our future is in great hands and we are proud to support them and the institutions that serve them."
Zillow is currently on a big nationwide recruitment drive, especially for tech positions. Along with the company's industry-leading work from anywhere policy, having talented young students from diverse backgrounds enjoy themselves working on the portal's R&D will no doubt be a great benefit for the company's HR when it comes to attracting candidates.