HPD

NYC.gov Housing Lottery Digital Transformation

NYC.gov Housing Lottery Digital Transformation

The NYC Housing Lottery offers affordable rent-stabilized apartments to New York households with low and middle-income. The popular government funded initiative had a convoluted application process, with a complex verification system and many internal sensitivities. The application and screening process was done across a multitude of spreadsheets and databases, causing a lot of heavy lifting for HPD staff and confusion for applicants.

The NYC Housing Lottery offers affordable rent-stabilized apartments to New York households with low and middle-income. The popular government funded initiative had a convoluted application process, with a complex verification system and many internal sensitivities. The application and screening process was done across a multitude of spreadsheets and databases, causing a lot of heavy lifting for HPD staff and confusion for applicants.

Client Goals

1. Give users an intuitive and quick way to create an account and apply to lotteries
2. Reduce inbound inquiries through a clearer experience that sets expectations
3. Encourage more accurate calculations of household incomes to reduce disqualified applications
4. Reduce number of complaints and appeals
5. Make the process feel welcoming and approachable

The Challenge

1. Optic sensitivities around income and qualification
2. Very disjointed system using
3. Limited access to users

Research and Alignment

 

Demo and User Stories

The client gave a demo of the current design of their product and the most crucial tasks and flows, including:

1. Creating an account
2. Calculating household income
3. Searching lotteries
4. Applying to a lottery

Defining the Experience

 

Experience Design
Key Flows and IA
Experience Features

Pain Points and Opportunities

We identified many ways to improve the experience of searching and applying for lotteries in the system, surfacing important information about the buildings and creating an accurate household profile.

We also identified ways to allow users to quickly calculate their household income and confirm their eligibility for any open lotteries.

Designing Key Flows

 

Qualifying Your Household

A key part of the user experience was determining your eligibility for the lottery, which depended on the size of your household and your total combined household income. The process of calculating this was confusing and unclear, leading to a lot of incorrect information being provided that resulted in disqualified applicants later down the line, wasted time and resources and complaints being filed. We made some key recommendations:

1. Offer up the simplest option first- entering your W2 amount from the prior year unless your income had changed
2. Guide the user through double checking all other sources of income
3. Help users with complex or varying income streams calculate their total household income
4. Better set the expectation that accuracy is extremely important and that all information provided would require proof in the case of winning a lottery

Calculating Your Income

We created a guided path that helped users accurately calculate their income for simple and more complicated income situations. The system guided users through a series of questions and calculations to get an accurate financial picture.

Searching Lotteries

Eligibility for a lottery depends on 2 factors; the size of your household and your combined household income, however there was no way for users to filter lotteries down to the ones that they are eligible for. Finding available matches required scanning pdf tables and calculating manually. We added a 2 click quick validation tool to help direct qualified users to their matches, and created a more robust search system, that helped applicants find only the best fits for their homes.

1. Added ways to quickly filter and see only matching lotteries
2. Added 2 click validation step for quickly establishing your eligibility
3. Surfaced contextual information about the lotteries to help establish strength of fit

 

 

Human and Approachable Design Language

We used simple illustration, natural feeling photography, approachable language and simple layouts to create a design language that feels human, friendly and straightforward.

Before and After

Summary

The NYC Housing Team asked Momentum to improve the overall user experience for the lottery submission application process. In the end, we were able to simplify the way users applied for affordable housing and ensured that this new experience not only worked on desktop, but on mobile as well.