Thirty hackers from throughout the country converged on the nation’s capital from June 16-18 as part of a weekend-long hackathon aimed at finding solutions to remove bias from the housing and lending sectors.
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), the country’s only national civil rights organization dedicated solely to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all people, planned the inaugural Tech Equity Hackathon as part of its year-long campaign to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.
The winning team — comprised of Yoshi M. Bird, Qilin Tong, and Nicholas Bowen — was chosen by a panel of expert judges and received a $25,000 reward.
NFHA partnered with UrbanGeekz to promote the event, which was the brainchild of the organization’s Tech Equity Initiative, a multi-faceted effort designed to eliminate bias in algorithmic-based systems used in housing and financial services, increase transparency and explainability for AI tools, outline ethical standards for responsible tech, advance effective policies for regulating AI tools, and increase diversity and inclusion in the tech field. When they were not hacking, participants were in critical workshop sessions on discrimination and machine learning.
“Ultimately, through its Tech Equity program and events like the Hackathon, NFHA wants to help democratize the knowledge of responsible technology in housing so that we can eliminate bias in algorithmic systems being used in housing and financial services, increase transparency and explainability for AI tools, outline ethical standards for responsible tech, advance effective policies for regulating AI tools, and increase diversity and inclusion in the tech field,” said Dr. Michael Akinwumi, NFHA’s Chief Tech Equity Officer. “We are so grateful to everyone who participated in this important event — NFHA staff, the hackers, the speakers, the judges, and our sponsors — and we look forward to hosting other similar events in the future to further advance NFHA’s critical mission.”
During the three-day event, held at American University in Washington, D.C., several teams of students, recent college graduates, and others competed to develop innovative solutions to remove bias from the housing and lending sectors. Specifically, teams were tasked with:
In addition to the top prize of $25,000, the second-place team received $15,000, and members of the remaining teams received a participatory prize of $100 each. NFHA plans to host another hackathon in 2024.
(Main Photo): From Left to Right: Yoshi M. Bird, Jonathan Lawless of Bilt Rewards (award presenter), Qilin Tong, and Nicholas Bowen