The New York City Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer launched two new NYCx Challenges, which call on the local tech community to work with government agencies and global innovators to address the housing and mental health needs of the city's vulnerable communities.
The NYCx Co-Labs: Accessible Mental Health Challenge is designed to make mental health services more accessible to Latinx youth ages 13-18, living in the Inwood and Washington Heights neighborhoods. The NYCx Co-Labs: Housing Rights Challenge was launched to empower tenants with "strategic, targeted and tailored information" about their housing rights to help them take action.
The deadline for the two competitions is April 7. Winners will receive support for a pilot program in New York; opportunities to partner with city agencies; and seed funding of up to $20,000 to test solutions.
The Housing Rights Challenge is focused on two neighborhoods in Northern Manhattan that are home to 220,000 people. Sixty-nine percent of those residents identify as Hispanic or Latino. The area has recently experienced population growth and rising rents, which has resulted in some landlords displacing long-term residents — a practice that affects 63% of residents who are extremely low- to low-income.
The competition is intended to use technology to connect residents with the government services needed to understand tenant laws and other protections that keep renters from being wrongfully evicted. Some of those solutions include improving a tenants’ ability to file complaints, knowing what to do after a complaint is filed and tracking the complaint.
"Through this Challenge, the City is seeking to complement its existing efforts by leveraging the expanding 'proptech' sector to identify new strategies for overcoming obstacles to safe, secure, and affordable housing," the city wrote in a statement.
The Accessible Mental Health Challenge is designed to help improve access to mental health services for youth in the Inwood and Washington Heights neighborhoods.
One in two mental health conditions start at age 14, with 32.6% of U.S. Latino students citing feelings of hopelessness and sadness.
The two neighborhoods are home to the biggest group of children and youth in Manhattan. About 74% of the area-population is Latinx and 14% of the population lacking medical insurance. The challenge is designed to address a pressing need for better mental healthcare in the area.
The Mayor's Office of the Chief Technology Officer has been home to other innovative competitions, inviting people to solve major challenges like broadband connectivity and climate change. The group has hosted Moonshot challenges, for example, that set the goal to bring 5G to Governors Island and supported a plan to turn light poles into electric vehicle charging stations.