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HUD's Next Door Kiosks Are a Hit

By Candi Harrison

March 22, 1999

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is reinventing the way it delivers information and services to the public, and the new HUD Next Door Kiosk is one product of this effort. These new electronic kiosks -- located in Federal buildings, shopping malls, libraries, transportation centers, city halls, grocery stores and other public places around the country -- allow citizens access to basic HUD information, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, much the way they would use an ATM at the bank. This is just one of the ways that HUD is empowering citizens, by giving them the information they need to solve their own problems, when they need it and in terms they can understand.

Kiosk Content Is Tailored to the Community Itís In

The information on the kiosk is tailored to the community where the kiosk is located. We expect citizens to spend about 5-10 minutes using the kiosks. If they need more information, they can visit a HUD office (the address, phone number, and fax number of the closest HUD office is shown at the bottom of every page they print from the kiosk).

One of the best aspects of the HUD Next Door Kiosks is that they are web-based. That means that we can control their content centrally and that we can update it easily and remotely. It also means that everything on the kiosks also is on the home page - so the kiosk and home page are consistent.

The kiosk is housed in an attractive surround with pictures of the local community. At the top is a "ticker tape" that can be used to announce community events. The kiosk itself is operated by the touch of a finger. There is an onscreen hostess who talks the user through the menu. Where appropriate, kiosks have both English and Spanish translations.

At the kiosk, citizens can see what HUD is doing in their communities; learn how to buy a home; find affordable rental housing; find a homeless shelter; and discover how to file a housing discrimination complaint. Itís loaded with practical tips for consumers on ways to make their homes more healthy and ways to avoid being a victim of fraud. If citizens want to know what HUD properties are for sale in their area, they just push a button and print out the list. If theyíre interested in buying a home, they can use the mortgage calculator to find out instantly how much they can afford.

Citizens can walk away with a print out of HUD approved lenders or a list of local housing counseling agencies who can help them figure out their housing options. In short, the kiosk helps citizens cut through the red tape of government bureaucracy because it allows them to find out what they need to know, without having to pick up a telephone or wait for a HUD office to open.

HUDís Partners

To create this cutting edge technology, HUD worked with Gensler Associates architectural firm, with Advanced Technology Systems, who assisted with content development, and with two leaders in kiosk technology: North Communications and Summit Research.

HUD unveiled the first kiosk in May 1998 at the opening of the Departmentís first storefront office in Washington, DC. As of March 15, 1999, there are 43 HUD Next Door Kiosks throughout the country. HUD plans to install a total of 90 kiosks by the end of FY 1999

All too often, the government lags far behind the private sector in using technology, despite the fact that it can save substantial amounts of money in the long term and enable us to give better service to our customers. The HUD Next Door Kiosk is a concept, which is both on the cutting edge of technology and a model of efficient government service. It brings HUD to the people, instead of making the people come to HUD.

Programs like HUDíS kiosks are on their way to achieving Vice President Gore's vision in his 1997 report, Access America. "The kind of government we'll have as we begin the next century," the Vice President said, "will be a government where all Americans have the opportunity to get services electronically and where, aided by technology, the productivity of government operations will be soaring."

Kiosks Are Getting Kudos

The HUD Next Door Kiosks have been recognized by Vice President Goreís National Partnership for Reinventing Government with the Hammer Award, for improving the delivery of service to the public; and theyíve received favorable press in the New York Times, the Denver Post, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In addition, the HUD Next Door Kiosks has been named a semi-finalist for Harvardís 1999 Innovations in American Government Award.

How Customers React

Customers interviewed said they enjoyed the kiosk, found it easy to use, easy to navigate, and would use it again without hesitation. Demographically, this was a very diverse group, and all users --from widely divergent socio-economic groups--used the kiosks easily, without outside assistance and without difficulty. - Francine Mendelsohn, Summit Research.

The Kiosk was the hit of the (trade) show! We did not have the best booth, location wise, but we had crowds six deep. The Fair was in El Paso and the Spanish version was used about 50% of the time. The most used feature at this particular show (first time homebuyers) was the mortgage calculator. I encourage you all to use this tool. - Andy Hackney, HUD Lubbock Office

About the Author

Candi Harrison is Web Manager for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, DC. You may reach her at (202) 708-1547 or

Related Resources

Housing and Urban Development Website

Vice President Goreís Hammer Awards

Innovations in American Government Award Program

Hud's Storefront Office a Model of Community Partnership