JULY 18, 2016, BY JILL GLAVAN
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The city of Bloomington hopes the public will help earn it an extra boost for a project aimed at helping renters save money.
The rentrocket.org project is a finalist for a $10,000 grant through Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Climate CoLab competition.
The website, used in more than a dozen cities and spearheaded in Bloomington, uses public data and self-reporting to show every rental in the city, its utility costs, and green, cost-saving measures like access to public transportation.
“Most rental websites tell you if there’s laundry and if you can have pets. They leave out a lot of important details that renters don’t think about before they move in,” Assistant Energy Outreach Coordinator Alex Otto said.
Otto admitted, not every landlord is on board, as some don’t think the city should tell them what to do. He said it’s voluntary, though, and is only meant to incentivize landlords and renters to consider cost-saving green upgrades.
“It’s supposed to be a tool and nothing more. If landlords feel incentivized to make utilities more of a focus because of our tool that’s okay, and if they don’t that’s also okay. We just want renters to understand the full scope of renting,” Otto said.
The website also aligns with Mayor John Hamilton’s initiative to make housing more affordable across the city. Bloomington has one of the highest average rents in the state, largely due to its student population.
“We’re trying to make sure, from our administration, that we keep this city affordable to people from all walks of life,” Hamilton told FOX59 last week.
Rent Rocket is looking for more renters and landlords to send in their utility costs and information online, as it expands into a more public phase.
You can vote for the project to win the $10,000 grant at the link here.