Creative Ways to Develop Affordable Housing Resources for Homeless and Very Low-income Tenants Barbara Schultheiss, M.S.
Homelessness and very low-income • What do I need to know as a provider? • What grants/contracts are you working under (HSG, SSVF, ESG, HPRP, etc.)? • What am I required to do as a provider (paperwork, etc.)? • What can I do to help (build relationships, have a smooth process)?
Housing First • The thought that people are more receptive to services once they are in their own housing. • People will constantly be concerned and trying to fill the void of housing until they obtain housing.
Using HUD’s funds • Be sure to follow all of the forms and procedures • Be successful at what you do (re-housing clients, keeping clients housed) • Don’t dish out money without knowing all of the rules • HUD would like to see as many people housed and as quickly as possible with the least amount of “recidivism” in your Continuum of Care
How do you do “housing first”? • Give clients a list of landlords, listings for rooms, and have he/she go look at them • You don’t want to be the one to “pick out” a place to live since you aren’t the one living there • You want the client to have the responsibility of finding a place and owning their part • Give clients a letter to hand to landlords. YOU explain the program and parameters instead of having the client do it • Think outside the box: ask clients if they have thought of rooming with another person? Show them their expenses if it is just the client and a child living together in a $1300 a month place versus splitting those in half
Housing clients realistically • You want to give clients reality not what they want to hear • If they go with a $1300 a month apartment, ideally to afford that, HUD says they should bring home 70% more than that a month. Show this this on paper. Even if this is not going to come out exact, what should they do to live comfortably? • Do they want cable, internet? • What is included?
How do you house clients without a job? • Think strategically! • Work on getting them a place to call home, but be realistic with the client. • Talk about their past wages ($10.00 per hour, 30 hours per week) • Talk/show them how much rent costs in the area they are living (i.e. Reston, VA versus Lorton, VA) • Help them visualize it (you need to show them how this all maps out) • See example • Get them motivated
Explain the program to the client • Be upfront (this is not long-term funding) • If you are able to help out, it may be only for a month or two. What is the plan after that? • Have them sign a case management agreement so everyone knows what the expectations are and when funds will stop! • Don’t forget to explain entitlements that may be keeping the client where he/she is such as the McKinney Vento Act. They may be able to see receive school transportation if they move out of the area and their child can attend the same school a lot of the times.
What about landlords? • Private landlords or new apartment complexes are more likely to rent to people with less than favorable rental histories or income • Have a plan when you go in • Be organized within your organization (make sure everyone is on the same page) • Make sure the landlord knows the plan and knows that your organization is not responsible after so many months rent
What is your plan? • Tell the landlord exactly what you can pay for (i.e. 1 month, 3 months) • What are the parameters for you to pay (i.e. the client must meet with me at least monthly, etc.) • Minimize what you need from the landlord (put the documents you need signed into the least amount of forms as possible) • Make sure you are abiding by the Landlord Tenant Act in your jurisdiction! This can cause a repayment if not!
Where have we been successful? • Informing the client ahead of time what we can do (this is the minimum) • If you know you typically only provide one month rent, then let the client know • Inform the client what he/she will need to do in order to receive the next month’s rent based on your program guidelines (provide paystub, pay half of the rent, etc.) • Decreasing rent such as paying 100%, 75%, 50%, 25% is an effective way of slowly getting the client off of assistance • Show an example of what the payments will look like over the next 3-4 months
Keeping people housed • Building the relationship with the client is essential • Set the boundaries up front (the client should do X and you will do Y) • Check in with the client by phone, in-person, etc. See how • Ask the client to sign a landlord release where the landlord sends you a copy of every correspondence the client receives! This may help prevent future evictions too!
What if it is not possible to keep my client housed? • Divert them as soon as you know! • Talk to the landlord, explain the situation and the facts • Ask the client about moving to another place • Offer to fill the vacancy with another person that may be a better fit
Useful Forms • Landlord Release • Case Management Agreement • Landlord Letter • Housing Sustainability Form • How much rent? • Weekly Housing Listings • Housing Search Form • Rent Reasonableness Checklist • Rental Comparison