Digitizing Tenants’ Rights: Goldman Sachs’ Jordan Fruchter Creates App to Help Renters
Jordan Fruchter, a vice president in Consumer and Wealth Management, is doing his part to help low-income tenants in New York state with his app, HARM–Habitability, Abatement of Rent, Mathematical calculator.
The HARM calculator—piloted in Albany, New York in 2020—is a digital tool that helps renters understand their legal rights under state law and take action if necessary. Jordan created the calculator in 2020 in response to how the COVID-19 pandemic affected low-income tenants, where many faced a crisis by living in uninhabitable conditions and did not have an adequate legal remedy to address their issues. He set out to make the legal system more accessible for those who can’t afford an attorney.
HARM is organized by categories based on the most common legal issues faced by tenants, all backed by relevant case law necessary for proving damages in court. With the calculator, tenants simply have to fill in basic details—such as name, rent, issues in the apartment, date they notified the landlord—and the application does the rest. It calculates damages owed by the landlord and pre-populates the forms needed to take legal action. The application also creates a script tenants can read in court, with all of the relevant information necessary to make their case.
“I didn’t get a grasp of just how bad the situation was until I went to a landlord tenant court and heard tenants tell their stories,” Jordan said, reflecting on the uphill court battles many tenants face against well-resourced landlords. “It was upsetting to learn of the unimaginable living conditions that these individuals were forced to endure. I decided then and there that I would come up with a solution to help them.”
Jordan piloted the use of his proprietary HARM calculator in Albany, where he worked with a nonprofit organization fighting for tenants’ rights. The app allowed the organization to scale their operations and assist more than 200 tenants living in uninhabitable conditions. In the future, Jordan hopes to make the calculator’s software open-source, so the app can be used by nonprofits and legal aid societies to help more individuals.
“I’m trying to give back to these individuals in our community who really could use our help,” Jordan said. “My hope is that my tool will empower people who are facing a situation where they would ordinarily feel powerless.”