House hunters rejoice
Two USD students create website that helps student find off-campus housing.
By Hannah Bucklin
ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
Finding housing as a student can be difficult. That’s why Associated Students President Morgan Schwanke and junior Jordan Jadallah created OnMyBlock (www.onmyblock.com), a website designed to help USD students find housing near campus and at the beach.
OnMyBlock categorizes its rentals by location. Viewers can see a map to navigate and find houses in the locations desired. Once the viewer clicks on a photo of a house they like, he can view a slideshow of interior pictures, see it on a map and get a street view of the house.
Schwanke and Jadallah wanted to create a website that was easy for USD students to use and eliminate the stress that can come from house hunting.
“In essence, we want to develop an online experience that creates massive amounts of reliable feedback on college housing through tapping into the social and college networks,” Jadallah said. “We are learning that students are comfortable and more than willing to share information on their college living experiences. This information not only helps students find a place to live but also puts them in control of their housing searching process.”
Sophomore Brittany Nelson and her friends have been looking for houses for the past month and have struggled to find a house that will rent to students and is in their budget. She thinks that OnMyBlock is a good idea to help ease the selection process for students.
“It is really hard to find a fully furnished houses that fits our budget, “ said Nelson. “Most owners are not very accommodating and my friends and I have struggled to find a house that fits our needs.”
Schwanke said that what prompted him to make this website was the experience he had house hunting his freshman year. He found the whole process to be very frustrating and time consuming. After that, he decided to provide USD students with a house finding service called Student Realty San Diego. The new service showed him that most USD students ended up moving into houses that were previously rented by other USD students. Schwanke realized that the house hunting process was a social procedure and what it ultimately needed was an easy and fun online service to help facilitate students.
He furthered the idea by teaming up with Jadallah and developing the iPhone app and website that would become OnMyBlock.
During the beginning of the development process, Schwanke and Jadallah found a USD developer who joined their team. The trio spent the summer of 2012 working on their website and making it into something that they hoped could potentially help students across the nation. After that summer they switched over to their current developer, Gino Ferrand, who is a USD alumnus. Ferrand and his team of engineers currently manage and develop the OnMyBlock website and iPhone app.
Schwanke and Jadallah always had the mission to create a reliable website for USD students in need of off-campus housing.
“OnMyBlock is not about having the most listings on the internet, but rather about having the best college houses and apartments curated by your friends and classmates,” Schwanke said. “There’s RateMyProfessor for college professors, there’s College Prowler for college reviews, and now there’s OnMyBlock to find, rate and review college housing.”
The website launched only a few weeks ago but they have already seen a steady growth of website and iPhone activity. However, Schwanke and Jadallah need student feedback to constantly improve the website and create a trustworthy database for students.
OnMyBlock does not work directly with realtors or landlords. They instead compile postings on the internet and post them on their website in what they say is an easier and clearer manner.
Like RateMyProfessor and College Prowler, OnMyBlock allows students to truthfully answer questions about rentals such as: How are the neighbors? How safe is the area? What do utilities normally run at? This website offers descriptions about houses and locations from the student perspective, instead of just the perspective of a realtor or landlord.
Schwanke and Jadallah hope to launch OnMyBlock on the campuses of San Diego State, Point Loma Nazarene and University of California San Diego within the next few weeks.