Press releases

Housing Connector expands to Denver region

Zillow-powered search tool to help service providers find available housing for clients

Nov 17, 2021

SEATTLE, Nov. 17, 2021 — Today, Zillow and Housing Connector announced Housing Connector’s expansion into the Denver region to help area service providers more easily and efficiently house clients experiencing homelessness. This expansion was made possible thanks to the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative (MDHI) and HousingFirst Lab, organizations focused on addressing homelessness in the Denver region.

"No apartment should sit vacant when so many people need homes," said Shkelqim Kelmendi, the executive director of Housing Connector. "Finding these units and placing residents into them is too often a disjointed process that both landlords and renters find difficult to navigate. This is where Housing Connector comes in — with dedicated staff, tailor-made technology via Zillow’s search tool, and a proven model that, for the past two years, has helped house over 2,300 people in the Pacific Northwest. We know how urgent the need is throughout our country, and that’s why we are excited to launch into the Denver Metro Region as our first market outside of the Pacific Northwest.”

Housing Connector attracts private property owners and landlords by providing free referrals to ready-to-rent residents, financial support, a single point of contact for customer service, and one year of guaranteed housing stability support from a community partner. In exchange, property owners adjust or waive criteria (credit, rental history, etc.) for potential residents, opening up units that previously were out of reach for people experiencing homelessness.

“Housing affordability continues to be the leading cause of homelessness in our region,” said Dr. Jamie Rife, director of development and communications for the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative. “We are excited to see the impact of Housing Connector in removing common barriers to housing in our community and are impressed by the change this platform has already created in the Pacific Northwest.”

Housing Connector makes these listings available through Zillow's affordable housing search tool, which enables partner landlords to upload available housing inventory, and local nonprofit service providers to find inventory in real time for tenants who need housing. The Zillow-powered search tool directly addresses one of the biggest challenges for case managers: finding available long-term housing that is accessible to their clients. With the tool, case managers no longer have to manually review or contact properties to see if clients are eligible; available units are now at their fingertips through Zillow's online listing platform.

“Zillow’s mission is to help people unlock life’s next chapter, which is why we’re so proud to work with Housing Connector as it makes a positive impact in Denver,” said Grace Chung, Zillow's director of social impact. “Housing affordability is a crisis that impacts communities across the country. This tool will empower Denver nonprofits to find critically needed housing solutions to end someone’s experience with homelessness.”

The expansion to Denver marks the first time the tool will be available outside the Pacific Northwest. Eight participating properties in the Denver area and 16 nonprofit service providers have already partnered with Housing Connector, with more to be added in the months ahead.

“Finding stable housing for our neighbors experiencing homelessness is a challenge throughout the Metro Denver area,” said Wheat Ridge Mayor and Metro Mayors Caucus Vice Chair Bud Starker. “The Metro Mayors Caucus is excited that the region has been chosen as the second market for Housing Connector and anticipates the simplification of what can be a frustrating and time-consuming process for area service providers and households alike."

Zillow and Housing Connector launched their partnership and search tool in the Seattle area in early 2020 and expanded the tool regionally in 2021. More than 2,300 people — 66% of which are households of color — have already found long-term housing in Western Washington through Housing Connector. The majority of these individuals earn less than 30% of the area median income annually. Thanks in part to efficiencies brought about by Zillow’s tool, Housing Connector has increased its inventory from 152 participating properties in March 2020 to more than 1,000 in November 2021.

“We are thrilled to welcome and support Housing Connector in their first expansion outside of Washington,” said Blaine Pellicore, founder of HousingFirst Lab and newly appointed board member of Housing Connector. “Housing Connector is an elegant technology solution backed by an incredibly strong team of compassionate individuals. What we love most about this solution is how quickly we can get people into homes because we are simply utilizing existing units more efficiently. Denver still needs additional affordable housing units — that’s a fact — but Housing Connector is a brilliant solution that will start changing lives the day we launch.”

The search tool was developed and launched by Zillow’s Social Impact Product team, a specialized team of engineers and product managers dedicated to developing products that create positive change. This tool is not available to the general public.

About Housing Connector

Housing Connector is a nonprofit organization that helps private property owners and landlords easily and successfully rent to people experiencing homelessness. Launched in Seattle in 2019, Housing Connector takes a business-to-business approach based on the belief that leveraging existing housing in the private market can meaningfully reduce homelessness.

Thanks to the services and support provided by Housing Connector, renters referred by the organization can find and move into their next home faster and have the support to ensure they are able to maintain their housing stability.

About Zillow Group

Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z and ZG) is reimagining real estate to make it easier to unlock life’s next chapter.

As the most-visited real estate website in the United States, Zillow® and its affiliates offer customers an on-demand experience for selling, buying, renting or financing with transparency and nearly seamless end-to-end service. Zillow Offers® buys and sells homes directly in dozens of markets across the country, allowing sellers control over their timeline. Zillow Home Loans™, our affiliate lender, provides our customers with an easy option to get pre-approved and secure financing for their next home purchase. Zillow recently launched Zillow Homes, Inc., a licensed brokerage entity, to streamline Zillow Offers transactions. 

Zillow Group’s brands, affiliates and subsidiaries include Zillow®; Zillow Offers®; Zillow Premier Agent®; Zillow Home Loans™; Zillow Closing Services™; Zillow Homes, Inc.; Trulia®; Out East®; StreetEasy® and HotPads®. Zillow Home Loans, LLC is an Equal Housing Lender, NMLS #10287 (

About Metro Denver Homeless Initiative

MDHI is the Metro Denver Continuum of Care (CoC), which is a regional system that coordinates services and housing for people experiencing homelessness. This work includes street outreach, emergency shelter, transitional housing, rapid rehousing, prevention and diversion, and permanent supportive housing.

MDHI works closely with each county in the continuum (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson), building a homeless crisis response system aimed at getting people stably housed as quickly as possible. That's the core of what we believe: housing is the solution to homelessness.

About Housing First Lab

HousingFirst Lab is a registered 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2019 to incubate technology-driven solutions that make meaningful progress in the fight to end homelessness. HousingFirst Lab authored a comprehensive report on the state of homelessness in Denver and a list of impactful solutions to address the key gaps in the approach to supporting those experiencing it.

Bringing Housing Connector to Denver is HousingFirst Lab’s most impactful accomplishment. Because of this, HousingFirst Lab will be sunsetting as a standalone organization and combining its staff and resources with Housing Connector. HousingFirst Lab strongly believes that bringing our talent, passion and capital to Housing Connector will have the greatest impact on improving our community.