Using machine learning to help vulnerable tenants in New York city


To keep housing affordable, the City of New York has implemented rent-stabilization policies to restrict the rate at which the rent of certain units can be increased every year. However, some landlords of these rent-stabilized units try to illegally force their tenants out in order to circumvent rent-stabilization laws and greatly increase the rent they can charge. To identify and help tenants who are vulnerable to such landlord harassment, the New York City Public Engagement Unit (NYC PEU) conducts targeted outreach to tenants to inform them of their rights and to assist them with serious housing challenges. In this paper, we1 collaborated with NYC PEU to develop machine learning models to better prioritize outreach and help to vulnerable tenants. Our best-performing model can potentially help TSU find 59% more buildings where tenants face landlord harassment than the current outreach method using the same resources. The results also highlight the factors that help predict the risk of experiencing tenant harassment, and provide a data-driven and comprehensive approach to improve the city’s policy of proactive outreach to vulnerable tenants.

Proceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGCAS Conference on Computing and Sustainable Societies