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Hacking the housing crisis in Kelowna with app to help young people save for home

The proposed app works as a 52-week savings challenge
Team Four Financial Freedom won the Hacking Housing event hosted by Accelerate Okanagan June 23, 2022 (Contributed)

Accelerate Okanagan’s most recent hackathon brought 40 people together at Kelowna’s Innovation Centre to tackle the question ‘How might we mitigate the stressors surrounding affordable housing in the Okanagan Valley?’

On Thursday, June 23 people from all backgrounds were split into a number of teams to compete for the best solution.

Jan Rutgers, founder of Vestabul Design, was on the winning team Financial Freedom which built an idea for The Village App.

“Our original thought was that we wanted to be able to build an app that would allow a first-time homeowner or first-time home buyer to be able to save for a down payment,” Rutgers said. “Our theories were that a lot of 20 to 30-year-olds coming out of high school, just getting started in life, really have not given good budgeting, it’s not something that’s taught in schools and how could we develop an app that would motivate them to save for a down payment.”

Rutgers said the team switched course to look at paying the first month’s rent and a security deposit.

“A single-family home in Kelowna is over $1.1 million… by the time we did the math on a $500,000 purchase of a first-time residence and you need $25,000 minimum for a 5 per cent down payment, we saw that it was unrealistic to expect that this age group would be able to save $25,000 in a year.”

The app is meant to encourage users to save over the course of a year.

Rutgers said the proposed format would be saving $2 in the first week and increase the amount by $2 each week for 52 weeks.

In one year the total saved would be $2,756, Rutgers said, “which would be the $850 needed for a security deposit and the $1,700 for the average first month’s rent.”

As the winning team, Financial Freedom was offered mentorship through Accelerate Okanagan, but Rutgers said they won’t be completing or launching the app.

“I think it would be great for somebody to jump on board and take it on. I don’t see five complete strangers jumping in and putting that investment in to do it, but I could see that maybe it is something that somebody sees it as a great idea.”

Previous hackathon events in Kelowna have tackled questions around cancer care, eliminating waste, and more.

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Brittany Webster

About the Author: Brittany Webster

A video journalist with Black Press Media. I recently made the exciting move from my radio anchor position at AM 1150 to this new venture.
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