Proactive Outreach to Reduce Harassment of NYC Rental Housing Tenants

Fellows: Jerica Copeny, Samantha Fu, Rebecca Johnson, Teng Ye
Data Science Mentor(s): Joe Walsh
Project Manager: Mirian Lima
Project Partner: New York City Mayor's Public Engagement Unit
[Project Blog Post]

Many tenants in New York City are vulnerable to or have experienced harassment by their landlord. Some landlords try to pressure their tenants, primarily those who are low-income and live in rent-stabilized housing, to move out using tactics that range from ignoring maintenance requests to overt intimidation and illegal eviction. In 2015, the City of New York created the Tenant Support Unit (TSU), a part of the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit, to educate tenants about their rights through proactive phone and in-person outreach, and to connect tenants in need of assistance to City resources, including free legal support and home repairs. Using data from the Tenant Support Unit, their outreach attempts and outcomes, records of previous violations by landlords, and additional data including 311 calls and Census data, our work involved building machine learning models to help TSU predict which tenants may be at risk of harassment. TSU will use the results to better target tenants in need of assistance and prioritize areas for future outreach.