Episode 3: A Conversation With Rezility

Rezility is a free app that connects Marylanders and partner agencies with resources. It’s powered by Enterprise and their family of companies including an affordable housing company. Karrima Muhammad, Senior Manager of Resident Services, spoke with Quinton Askew, president and CEO of 211 Maryland.

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Show Notes

1:26 What is Rezility?

Rezility is a free app that connects individuals with community resources throughout the US including Maryland. 211 Maryland is one of the resources listed on the app.

3:33 Affordable housing

Enterprise, which backs Rezility, is a family of companies including a national affordable housing developer.

6:36 COVID-19 information

Rezility has a strong focus on Maryland communities and provided up-to-date information during COVID-19.

10:28 Partners

Rezility supports partners like 211 Maryland.

11:54 Qualifying for affordable housing

Enterprise talks about affordable housing opportunities.

13:36 Future plans for the app

Rezility hopes to roll out coupons and other features to further support communities.

Transcript

Welcome to What’s the 211? podcast where we provide you with information about resources and programs in your community. 211 Maryland is a health and human service line for anyone seeking help for themselves or someone else. You can dial 2-1-1 if you need help with food rent or other services. You can also text your ZIP code to 898-211 if you have mental health concerns. If you are someone who is in a mental health crisis or needs help with substance abuse, dial 2-1-1 and Press 1 to immediately be connected with someone.

Quinton Askew

Today, we have another one of our special guests with us. We have Ms. Karrima Muhammad, who is a Senior Manager of Resident Services with Enterprise Community Development. We’re definitely glad to have you to be a part of the podcast and share information about the resources and information about Rezility. Could you just tell the folks exactly what Rezility is?

What Is Rezility?

Karrima Muhammad (01:26)

Sure. Rezility is a free mobile app that is designed to connect folks, anyone to resources in their community. One main piece or component of the app is actually a resource dashboard. There’s what we call tiles on a dashboard for food, for housing, for seniors, for fun, for economics or money. Under each tile, depending on where you are, because it’s based off of geolocation, it’s going to look for resources for you underneath those headers like food. We have a listing for food pantries and food assistance and affordable houses. And not only do you have those resources, there are brief blurbs and descriptions to make it easier for someone to kind of navigate some of these systems. And also you can connect to right in the app, you can call or message or email within the platform to access those services and resources. Another component of the app, we have a bulletin board and what that bulletin board does is share with users, important information related to COVID.

Karrima Muhammad (2:42)

We share that 211 is a resource that you can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We share information about educational opportunities, especially during this time where children are now not allowed to attend school and are working from home. Parents need those extra kind of tidbits and information on how to help their students.

We send that information out all throughout the day, focused around those key kind of Social Determinants of Health education, academic, health related.

And you can as a user kind of turn on or off what you want to hear and listen to on the app, and we call it an engagement platform because we want to hear from you. There’s also the ability to chat and message and give feedback on the platform.

Affordable Housing

Quinton Askew (3:33)

Okay. And so Rezility also provides a way for folks to search for needed resources. And then you also mentioned information about affordable housing, which we both know in here, especially with 211 that that’s a barrier for a lot of folks in our community. What does Rezility do with affordable housing?

Karrima Muhammad (3:52)

Absolutely. Well, Enterprise, the company that I work for is a family of companies – Enterprise Community Investment, and Enterprise Community Partners, and now Enterprise Community Development. We are a national affordable housing developer. We fund affordable housing. We build affordable housing. We work with affordable houses and HUD through partners, and in many different ways to maintain and preserve affordable housing, but we just don’t do housing. We go beyond that, but that is our key focus area.

And this product was really developed to serve residents and providers working in the communities of not only ours, but other affordable housing developments. We have functionality on there that serves housers in a way that they can share out that key information about rental assistance, which currently is going to become a major issue.

We need to be able to support and reach out to individuals that we know are in a desperate situation.

Haven’t been working on two going on three months and making sure that they have the access to the information and resources they need to either, you know, make sure that they’ve completed and are now getting unemployment or working with their housing provider or accessing some funds that have been deployed at the county level and state level to help folks stay in their homes and get the rental assistance that they need.

Quinton Askew (5:31)

Okay. And so is this for folks who are within Maryland can look at your website, or how would individuals, you know, be able to see what affordable housing opportunities may be available in their community? Should they access it through your website or other areas, just to see, you know, are there particular locations that you work with that folks can identify?

Karrima Muhammad (5:51)

Sure, Rezility is available for anyone anywhere. It’s a national product. And we do focus on the DC DMV area. That’s where we started. However, we have users in California and in New Orleans. We have a large segment of users in Cleveland and Detroit.

Anyone can access and gain information at Rezility. We want to build agency and Rezility in our communities through this platform. And again, that’s Rezility.com. You can always go to your App store or Google Play Store and search Rezility and just download the app.

COVID-19 Information

Quinton Askew (6:36)

Okay. And I know that you all serve some specific areas within Maryland. Are there particular jurisdictions that you work in?

Karrima Muhammad (6:45)

The way the app sends out information, we’ve segmented what we call our audiences according to counties. We try to send out what we call general interest that’s to everybody on the Rezility platform. That’s national COVID information, but we do share out information on a local and county level.

So, we’re sending content to Ann Arundel County, Howard County, Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County. We do have a focus area, like I said, on the DMV area, also Washington DC, but Maryland, Howard county, in particular, especially when it comes to sharing vital information related to COVID resources and rental assistance resources and educational resources. We do make sure that we’re sharing out that local information to our local Maryland audiences.

Quinton Askew (7:39)

Okay. And you mentioned COVID, and I know, unfortunately we are in this pandemic, especially in Maryland, where our folks are dealing with COVID out of school and, you know, loss of income and other resources that are needed. How has COVID affected the work of Enterprise Community Development?

Karrima Muhammad (7:55)

Well, obviously there’s been more engagement. A lot of our staff on the Enterprise Community Development team, they’re still on site. You know, obviously property management is one area that’s vital and they’re still on site. They’re still working with residents. And so what’s been important for us.

And we really made sure that they have the resources, the rent information that they need, that we still have an open door, but we’re also leveraging this piece of technology and making sure that residents know this is available to them. They don’t necessarily have to go down and risk, you know, interaction with other individuals. To keep that social distancing in place, use the technology, and communicate with us via the technology. But there has been an increased need obviously for access to food. That was one of the major resources that we saw a need for through the platform.

Karrima Muhammad (8:49)

As soon as COVID hit. One of the things that we did was redesign the home page to include for folks to just tap on and immediately dial 2-1-1 to access resources. Within the first seven days, we saw about 208 of our very small at this point users. At that point, we were at about 2000 and that’s 10%. And that’s significant to know that there were a large segment of our users that really needed to talk to them and to find resources. So we’ve leveraged that one-on-one in that way and seeing that that’s been very helpful for our users.

Quinton Askew (9:34)

Okay. And so during this pandemic, and we know a lot of folks resources are limited. Does Enterprise Community Development provide particular financial assistance for folks seeking affordable housing, or are they mostly having the housing available that is available for individuals who do have some specific income?

Karrima Muhammad (9:53)

Yeah, well, there is opportunity. There’s a fund that Enterprise is working on. Unfortunately I don’t have all that information, but for those who are interested in finding out about the resources that Enterprise has, they can go to enterprisecommunity.org and find out more information about the resources and funding that enterprise has available to communities in need. And there is continuing opportunities in that area.

Partners

Quinton Askew (10:28)

Great. And so does Rezility or Enterprise partner with other organizations in the community, or is there information that you would like other organizations or faith-based folks to know of how they can partner with Rezility?

Karrima Muhammad (10:39)

Yeah, absolutely. That’s a big part of what we are trying to increase with the platform. We partnered with 211 Maryland, other organizations like YMCA, Mary Center in Washington, DC. They can actually have admin access to the platform and push their information out to residents and users that need it.

So I encourage any leadership or staff and organizations that are interested in seeing and leveraging the platform that we have built to reach out to us. They can reach out to me karrima@rezility.com. That is my email. And just let me know.

We’d love to partner with you because a part of the success and the growth of the platform is for users to be able to directly engage with some of the service providers to know that there’s a direct connection is very important. And we are a platform that is trying to continue to do that in a dynamic way, not just a listing but actually connecting to someone who is actually able to respond within the platform.

Qualifying For Affordable Housing

Quinton Askew (11:54)

The Rezility app is a place where folks can go to obtain resource information, identify resources that are available, and enterprise community development is where you would be able to find information around affordable housing and other resources that are available in their community. And so is there a particular reference to the affordable housing? Is there a particular income guideline? Are there any specific requirements that folks might, should be aware of?

Karrima Muhammad (12:23)

It totally depends on the location. We have properties that are all Section 8 or have certain types of programs that you may be anywhere from 30 to 80% of your area, medium income. It absolutely depends. Again, I would say go to our website there’s numbers there’s different properties you can look at in your area. If you’re interested in applying, there is availability at a variety of our properties. You just need to check. And again, you can reach out to me directly if you have an individual need, but certainly, you can go to the website and look at our individual properties in Baltimore. We actually have properties that are as far north, as Pennsylvania, and as far south as Richmond Hampton roads in Virginia Beach. We have properties in Baltimore, Columbia in Washington, DC. And so, yes, if you are looking for housing, if you’re interested in working with affordable housing, definitely reach out to me directly or check out our website enterprisecommunity.org.

Future Plans For The App

Quinton Askew (13:36)

Great. And are there any, any other social media channels that folks are able to connect with you?

Karrima Muhammad (13:41)

Absolutely. We are on Facebook and Twitter. It’s actually Rezility app on Twitter and Instagram and we are Rezility on Facebook.

Quinton Askew (13:52)

Great, great. And I think, you know, folks will be able to find, especially we appreciate the partnership and folks should be able to, we’ll be surprised of all the information they’re able to find and connect on the website. Is there any other information that any, anything you share with the folks as we’re closing about, you know, connecting with [inaudible] enterprise and with the organization that you know, businesses, or other folks within Maryland should know?

Karrima Muhammad (14:15)

Sure. One of the things that we’re working on developing within the platform is sharing out coupons. You know, again, this is a very trying financial time for many, many, many, many folks in, in our communities and our families. We’re a platform that can share out information about businesses and offer specialized coupons.

If there’s a business out there, that’s interested in partnering with Rezility to share out your resource, your service. Again, you can reach me at info@rezility.com or download the app, send some feedback, but there is opportunities also for businesses to partner with Rezility. And that’s one thing that we’re looking for or to leveraging more throughout this year.

Quinton Askew (15:03)

Thank you. Thank you. And thank you again, Karrima. I appreciate you taking the time to join us today on the podcast. And again, for anyone throughout the state of Maryland. If you are in need, 24/7/365 you can always dial 2-1-1 to be connected to any of our health and human services as well.

If you are in crisis, dial 2-1-1, Press 1 to be immediately connected with someone.

Thank you for listening and subscribing to What’s the 211? podcast. Thank you to Dragon Digital Radio for producing the podcast.

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Over 499,000 individuals connected with 211 Maryland by phone, text or chat in FY 2021.