Yalie creates subletting app

Yalies looking for a place to live in New Haven this summer now have an app to aid them in their search.

Bay Gross ’13 launched a website Wednesday designed to match Yalies staying in New Haven over the summer with Yalies who hope to sublet their apartments or houses. The website, SubletMeYale.com, was created as a part of the Yale College Council’s first-ever App Challenge, which asks undergraduate students to submit innovative software applications designed specifically for the Yale community.

“Our end goal is not a venture that brings in a lot of money; our end goal is a venture that improves Yale life,” Gross said. “I hope it’s successful, because anyone you talk to about subletting says it’s a pain.”

Gross’s site, which he said was created to address the difficulty students face finding summer accommodation, is only accessible through Yale’s Central Authentication Service, which requires a student’s NetID and password. Limiting access to the Yale community allows students to find housing in a more secure setting, Gross explained, one of the primary advantages his site has over public online classifieds like Craigslist.

Gross also maintains that he has created a site with a superior user interface to other classifieds. Once logged into the site, visitors are allowed to post a sublet or browse already-existing ones. Listings include, among other miscellaneous factors, a general description, the weekly rent, dates available, and occupancy. Students browsing the sublets are allowed to limit their searches to fit the criteria for which they are looking.

“It gives you control over all the variables that go into a sublet,” Gross explained, adding that YaleStation and Craigslist offer far fewer search filters.

Though he plays no role in the judging process, Gross has served as an informal technical advisor to the six-person YCC committee responsible for the App Challenge. He decided before spring break that he may as well enter the contest himself, and finished the initial site on his plane ride from Amsterdam to Cape Town over spring break. Since then he has spent another 20 to 25 hours preparing for its launch, he said.

The YCC App Challenge began this February, after both Gross and members of the council discussed the possibility of bringing a competition to Yale similar to those that already exist at a number of universities, including Harvard, Stanford and Columbia. One such competition is part of an introductory computer science class at Harvard, Gross explained.

The challenge requires the submissions to be some type of software application, whether for the Web, a personal computer, or smartphones, that is free for students to use.

YCC President Jeff Gordon ’12 explained how students’ interest in mobile access to Yale’s resources inspired the creation of the challenge.

“It sends a message to Yale and the administration of the student demand for the kind of programs we are trying to design,” Gordon said.

Jimmy Murphy ’13, a member of YCC and head of the team in charge of the App Challenge, said that initially the committee was not entirely sure how students would respond to the contest, but was pleasantly surprised by the undergraduate reaction. Seventeen entries were submitted before the March 4 deadline, and 14 submissions are in the running for the $1000 grand prize. The committee now hopes to make it an annual contest, Murphy said.

Vladimir Chituc ’12 stayed in New Haven the past two summers and said he relied on online classifieds to find a place off-campus to live because there were few alternatives.

“If there were other options, I definitely would have used them,” Chituc said.

The winning individual or team of the YCC App Challenge will be announced around May 1 and will be awarded $1000.

Sam Greenberg contributed reporting.

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