Evie Noble’s innovative program simplifies searching for low-cost rentals in the Coffs Coast region

Marie Lo Cascio, Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre Coordinator and Evie Noble.

 

WHEN Evie Noble walked into Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre (CHNC) the stars must have aligned.

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Marie Lo Cascio, CHNC Coordinator, couldn’t believe her luck.

Evie, having moved back from Sydney to be with her family because of COVID, came into the centre to volunteer for the Bright Sparks tutoring program.

Instead, she ended up designing an innovative computer program that makes searching for low-cost rentals in the Coffs Coast region, encompassing from Kempsey out to Bowraville and north to Grafton, much simpler.

Marie explained that while the Centre isn’t funded to be an accommodation service and can’t directly assist in that way, many who attend the CHNC in crisis also need somewhere to live.

“There is currently a twelve-year wait for public housing in this area, and to stay on that list some may need to prove they’ve applied for ten rentals per week which can be stressful, especially if they also have family commitments or a casual job,” Marie said.

“It can be very time-consuming following up individual rentals.”

In came Evie to the rescue, having graduated last year with qualifications in graphic design and web design, and whose sister Renee Noble is Executive Director of Girls’ Programming Network and a software developer.

Marie told News Of The Area, “When Evie came in we clicked straight away and I could see her potential.

“In my job I match volunteers with a project to motivate them and that they can feel passionate about, then give them enough autonomy to run with it,” she said.

NSW Health had contacted Marie about finding a more workable way for their clients to search for accommodation, citing manual systems used in some other Neighbourhood Centres which might only be updated weekly.

Evie’s program is powered by Domain under licence specifically for CHNC and extracts rentals of $350 per week and under, placing them into a concise, user-friendly table that’s easy to read at a glance.

“Best of all, the listing is refreshed every hour which means a lot less time wasted for everyone,” Marie said.

Evie said she was excited to take on the unique challenge.

“I remember thinking it’s a challenge, but that’s what I like.

“I’ve never done anything like this before, being more of a web designer in front end development.

“Renee did the data scraping and I designed the web page.”

Evie organised the timeframes, managed liaison and licensing issues, tweaked the coding and designed the sleek, deceptively simple web page.

“This is the first practical project I’ve managed and it involved a lot of technical challenges,” she said.

And how long did it take to create this groundbreaking program?

“Well, Marie and I have met weekly since November…so it’s been a month,” Evie said.

Marie described Evie’s work on the project as “an incredible achievement”.

“It’s been a pleasure working on this project with Evie,” Marie said.

“We often hear a negative narrative about millennials, but from my experience coordinating projects with young people, their level of professionalism, work ethic and passion to learn, is wonderful.”

“I know I presented Evie with a huge challenge and her drive and commitment to get this project done in a short space of time was phenomenal and it wouldn’t have been possible without her and her network of IT friends and particularly her sister Renee Noble.”

The free rental finder can be accessed through the CHNC website at https://chnc.com.au/low-cost-rental-list/

Evie is also available to act as consultant for organisations wishing to set up their own programs.

 

By Monika KOZLOVSKIS

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