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NYC seeks tech solutions to boost support for mental health and tenants’ rights

Up to two winners will be selected for each challenge and they will be eligible to receive $20,000 and pilot their technology in NYC for a year.


The Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO) in New York City has launched two civic tech competitions for solutions to help strengthen tenant rights and boost access to mental health support in upper Manhattan.


The NYCx Co-Labs: Housing Rights Challenge is a partnership between MOCTO, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York City Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT).


It seeks proposals to help the city provide better information about housing rights to tenants in the Inwood and Washington Heights neighbourhood. Proposals should help residents to claim their rights or connect them with community-based organisations (CBOs), resources or relevant city services.


“Applicants should focus proposals on tenant education and outreach, solutions that simplify laws, regulations and procedures,” a MOCTO statement said.


The city is also looking for strategies that improve a CBO’s ability to provide tenants’ rights resources in the neighbourhood.


Youth mental health


The NYCx Co-Labs: Accessible Mental Health Challenge is a partnership between MOCTO, NYCEDC and the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC. This challenge seeks proposals to improve mental health among Latino youth (13-18 years old) through tools and technologies that improve awareness of and access to resources.


Statistics cited by the city note that nearly 20 per cent of Latino adolescents in NYC report having seriously considered suicide. The city is seeking proposals for tools and resources that make it easier for young Latinos to understand mental health and mental illness and how to access support when needed, while also helping to reduce stigma around mental health issues.

“It is essential technology plays a pivotal role in solving for the problems New Yorkers face daily – like access to mental health care and strengthening tenant protections.”

NYC expects applications to address the needs of Latino youth, mental health service providers or organisations that provide mental health education and services. "They should also accommodate language barriers and cultural differences associated with the largely Spanish-speaking, foreign-born population in Inwood and Washington Heights," a statement said.


Real-world problems


“It is essential technology plays a pivotal role in solving for the problems New Yorkers face daily – like access to mental health care and strengthening tenant protections,” said deputy mayor Laura Anglin. “That is why I am so excited about the possibilities of this competition and looking forward to the solutions brought forth by start-ups and individuals from across the globe.”


NYCx Co-Labs is a civic innovation programme managed by MOCTO and NYCEDC.


“A smart city designs with and for communities to solve real-world problems,” said John Paul Farmer, chief technology officer for the city of New York. “Our NYCx Co-Lab in Inwood is a genuine partnership between neighbourhood and local government, established to surface new ideas and approaches that address the needs of residents. We invite the boldest innovators – from anywhere and everywhere, including right here in Inwood – to help us identify how we can better serve New Yorkers.”




A maximum of two winners will be selected for each challenge. They will receive up to $20,000 and pilot their technology in New York City for a year.


Applications are open until April 7, 2020. Finalists will be selected in spring with pilots expected to launch in autumn this year.

The application period is open until 7 April 2020.

The challenges were developed through a series of participatory workshops with community experts and residents in Inwood and Washington Heights.


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