Helping the homeless: Connecting QC landlords with housing assistance groups – WQAD Moline

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The Quad Cities Housing Council united five other housing assistance groups to teach area property owners on how to help the homeless wanting to rent.

MOLINE, Illinois — For many who are homeless, the chance to rent again is a ray of hope.

“Right now I’m renting a room to a guy that his mother passed away,” Dale Schaefer said, who rents out apartments in Davenport. “He didn’t have a place to go and he’s a good kid, so I’m helping him out. Why not help people, ya know?”

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the average cost of monthly rent in the U.S. rose 14% last year, with some cities seeing as much as 40%.

The rise is prompting housing assistance groups in the Quad Cities to work harder at providing aid.

“Having your housing needs met is really the whole of it,” Humility Homes & Services Executive Director Ashley Velez said. “If somebody’s struggling with mental health, substance abuse, child care, education – if you don’t have a place to go, you can’t meet any of those other needs.”

On Aug. 31, the Quad Cities Housing Council and five assistance groups hosted the “Rent it Forward” event, educating landlords on how grant money can subsidize costs for the homeless, and how to work with these tenants.

Those groups included Humility Homes & Services, The Salvation Army of Moline, Family Resources, Open Door Crisis Assistance and the Iowa City Veterans Affairs. 

However, some property owners said they find it difficult renting to those experiencing homelessness.

They explained that they often need to lower prices for low-income renters to qualify for assistance – otherwise they wouldn’t be able to rent at all.

They also added that in many cases, the aid only lasts so long.

“The biggest concern is that Rapid Rehousing will only last for up to 12 months,” said Verez. “You have that big accountability piece for a year. So then after we leave… People that are used to living in a crisis situation, you revert back to your old ways and what you’ve known. And so we’ve heard that from landlords that the concern is when you step out, it can all fall apart.”

For some landlords, the problems go beyond rent payments.

“One of the issues is just hygiene,” said Mavis Dare, a landlord based in Rock Island and Moline. “If they’ve been homeless for a while, their hygiene patterns are not what you want in your apartment or house.”

Dare said she is sympathetic towards the homeless and wants to help, but also added that some actually choose to remain homeless because they struggle with the responsibility of renting.

Housing assistance staff recognize the challenges and emphasized how tenants and landlords overcoming these can make all the difference for the homeless.

“If you have a place to go that’s affordable and safe, you then can give back to your community,” said Velez. “So it makes your community more whole and better, and it goes into your businesses too.”

If you or someone you know is in need of housing assistance, more information is available at these links:

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August 31, 2022 at 08:37PM

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