It took Kyle Jordan a month of touring apartments, talking to landlords and finding potential roommates to find off-campus housing.
“It wasn’t an easy process at all,” said Jordan, a 2017 chemistry alumnus who currently teaches chemistry at Gratz Prep Middle School in Nicetown.
When his friend Diamond Ross, a 2017 St. John’s University business marketing alumna, approached him with an app idea to help college students find apartments, Jordan saw it as an opportunity to make the renting process smoother for students.
Adulthood is an app that allows students to see their potential space in real time by using virtual reality to offer 360-degree views of their potential home.
“Adulthood explains how you feel when you move out on your own and when you’re out of your parents’ home and out of the campus atmosphere,” Ross said.
The app will work as a resource for students to find off-campus housing because some schools may not offer resources to help students, Ross added. Eventually, she wants the app to offer emergency shelter options, so even if students can’t afford housing, they can find emergency shelter locations near campus.
“Our main goal is to eliminate and decrease student homelessness,” Ross said. “You should not have to live in your car while pursuing a higher education.”
While in college, Ross obtained housing by working as a resident assistant. But some of her friends weren’t so lucky because they couldn’t find housing, she said.
“It’s very difficult, to say the least,” Ross said. “A lot of my friends actually became homeless.”
Ross and Jordan have been filming apartments with a 360-degree camera to create the images. They are considering developing their own virtual reality software or partnering with another company to help landlords convert their standard phone images to 360-degree visualizations.
Adulthood is meant to save students time apartment hunting by allowing them to take tours virtually rather than in person, Ross said. The app is still in development, but a prototype is available online. The official app is expected to launch within a year.
“Virtual reality is going to be taking over soon, and we want college students to be a part of the whole process,” Jordan said.
Jewel Thomas, a freshman political science and economics major, is looking for apartments near Main Campus for next year. The process has been very time consuming, she said.
“Looking for apartments that fit my needs, in my price range, at the location I want makes the process kind of difficult,” Thomas added.
Ross and Jordan have so far funded the project themselves, but will spend the summer looking for investors and launching a crowdfunding page. The app also allows students to filter for their preferences and will soon include a feature to help students find potential roommates.
Once someone has picked a place, they’ll be able to message their landlords through a direct messaging system, receive information about their leasing agreement and pay and split rent with their roommates.
“It will make it easier on each side, as there won’t have to be much interaction due to the fact that everybody has a busy schedule and no one likes to receive money in their hand,” Ross said.
Julia Prevost, a junior media studies and production major, has had trouble contacting her landlord and rental company concerning maintenance issues and often has to go in person because they won’t answer her messages, she said.
Since launching their prototype in February, Ross and Jordan have received messages from landlords and rental companies asking how to list properties on the app.
Jordan Kinsler, an independent landlord in Philadelphia, said he would be interested in using the app because of its convenience. Being a millennial himself, Kinsler understands college students are busy, he added, and thinks viewing an apartment virtually from a 360-degree angle would save landlords and potential renters a lot of time.
“In the world that we’re evolving to, everything is about convenience and how fast it can be done,” Kinsler said. “[The app] is perfect for today’s age, especially if you’re trying to target college students for your rental property.”
Students across the country have also reached out about the app’s launch date, Jordan said. They found out about it through Adulthood’s social media profiles.
Currently, the app focuses on major Philadelphia universities, like Drexel University and Temple, but is branching out to other colleges like the University of South Florida.
“I graduated from Temple, and just to get [the app] started there would mean a lot to me,” Jordan said.