ST. PAUL — Tyrone Poole was working to become a firefighter. He got an associate’s degree in fire science and became a certified paramedic.
But an injury during training changed everything. He spent nine months in the hospital. Unable to work, he was evicted from his home. He eventually even lost his car.
While homeless, Poole met with a Portland, Ore., housing advocate who found him a grant to pay his rent. He found an apartment and paid the $50 application fee. The next day, the landlord called him to say he did not qualify. He applied to another property and paid another fee. Denied again.
Landlords declined Poole time and time again after he ended up paying hundreds of dollars in rental application fees. His prior eviction and poor credit were often blamed.
That experience inspired OneApp. The mobile app database allows potential renters to filter their background against a management company’s screening criteria. The process is free for both renters and landlords, though there are premium options available for a fee, according to the oneapp.rentals website.
Launched in Oregon in 2017, Poole hopes to bring OneApp to the Twin Cities within the upcoming year.
OneApp has helped people struggling to find housing — from those with Section 8 vouchers to others with criminal records — locate places to live.
Nichol Beckstrand, president and CEO of the property owner advocacy group Minnesota Multi Housing Association, reached out to Poole to bring OneApp to the Twin Cities.
“Just having the product in the state alone is an efficiency for our members,” Beckstrand said. “If somebody comes to them ready to apply, and they know they already meet the screening criteria, that’s a good thing.”
This saves time on processing applications that cost money for time and labor.
Beckstrand and Poole have advocated for OneApp throughout the region, meeting with housing groups and possible investors the past two months. They hope to raise $1.5 million to unroll the app in the area.