HAC recently welcomed Streetlight as a new member and spoke with its founders Jeff Pawlak and Issac Rosenberg about their new venture aimed at helping home builders win approval for their projects.
Welcome to the Housing Action Coalition! For starters, what is Streetlight?
So glad to be part of HAC! Community opposition is an ongoing challenge for developers that can cause construction delays or even torpedo a project. When a project gets blocked, it is a huge waste of time, money, and energy.
Streetlight is a community engagement platform for real estate development. We help overcome community opposition by building support for housing through digital channels. Streetlight rallies supporters for developments by allowing community members to record videos and send them to their planning commission – all without attending the public meeting. Streetlight is like NextDoor for real estate in that it’s a home base for your project where you can engage your community through the development process from project ideation through to ribbon-cutting.
What inspired you to create Streetlight and how did you come up with the idea for the app?
First and foremost, we care about cities. We believe that urban environments are the future of humanity, and we want to do everything we can to improve them. We see NIMBYism as one of the biggest problems facing cities; it drags the economy down, it causes rent to skyrocket, and leads developers to lose billions in construction delays. At Streetlight, we are building the future by enabling real estate developers to rally support for their projects and get them approved faster.
What do you think makes Streetlight uniquely valuable in today’s home building market?
NIMBYism is largely an unsolved problem and developers don’t have any tech-enabled solutions to help them expedite project approval. Streetlight is uniquely valuable because it will address this problem in a way that no platform on the market is currently doing.
We believe Streetlight will radically increase project awareness in the community through automated marketing and help developers communicate project visuals, facts, and updates in a more straightforward medium. Additionally, it will help facilitate public discussion between community members and developers, and allow community members to submit videos to the planning commission which we think is the most critical part of the platform. Ultimately, we’re hopeful that Streetlight will give developers the ability to spend more time on what they actually want to do – build!
Why do you think now is an opportune time to launch Streetlight?
COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in the community engagement process by making it largely impossible for developers to meet community members face-to-face. So now is the time to build digital engagement tools transform that process both during the pandemic and well beyond.
If everything went as well as planned what does success look like for your company and your customers?
First and foremost, success to us is a world where rent is affordable in cities across the U.S. In terms of business goals, we will be successful when we are able to facilitate greater consensus between developers and communities. Gridlock and conflict is bad for business and bad for neighborhoods and we need to find a way forward. This may require some compromises, but we know that most developers are amenable to make adjustments to their projects if it means that they can get the green light to build.