Quad-Cities housing organizations, landlords discuss future collaboration to bridge affordable housing gap

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More than half the tenants Davenport property manager Brandi Sumpter works with struggled during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some are still not caught up on payments.

While the Iowa Finance Authority recently ended its Rent and Utility Assistance Program, which gave more than $170 million to about 17,000 Iowans, and turned instead to a rapid rehousing program, Sumpter said many of her tenants didn’t realize they were no longer going to receive support and were left floundering. 

After hearing the ways local housing organizations can both help tenants and keep them accountable, Sumpter said she’s hoping to work with them more in the future. 

“Now I can go in with more information,” Sumpter said. “It will be helpful for me to be able to hand them a piece of paper and say, ‘Here’s the phone number for somebody that should be able to help you.'”

More than 50 landlords and property managers gathered in the Salvation Army of Moline to connect with local housing organizations and learn about programs they have to help them work with prospective and current tenants.

The Salvation Army of the Quad Cities, Humility Homes & Services, Veterans Affairs, Family Resources, Open Door Crisis Assistance and the Quad Cities Housing Council took questions from property owners and managers and explained how they can collaborate with each other to create more affordable housing opportunities for their tenants. 

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, every $100 increase in median monthly rent is associated with a 9% increase in homelessness. Last year, monthly rents increased on average by 14%, or $200, nationwide.

Each organization has seen an increase in their client base during the pandemic, from single parties to families, each with their own obstacles to finding stable housing. From a lack of renting history to a lack of steady income to past evictions, many people have barriers to housing that can make landlords balk, Family Resources Crisis Residential Director Robert Alberts said. 

However, Family Resources and the other organizations don’t just help clients move in — they also work with them consistently to ensure they are practicing good tenant etiquette. Family Resources and the Salvation Army both keep up with clients, helping them with financial literacy and other aspects of renting. 

In response to a question about keeping tenants accountable for their space, payments and other responsibilities, Salvation Army Quad Cities Family Services Program and Operations Director Kelle Larned introduced the Tenant Academy. 

Starting this fall the Salvation Army will begin offering a tenant education program with the goal of teaching tenants how to successfully find and keep housing. Larned said Waypoint in Cedar Rapids saw 82% of tenants who completed the academy did not lose housing after two years of tracking. 

Sumpter said hearing about the tenant academy and other methods of keeping renters accountable gave her some peace of mind. 

“It’s another step we’re taking to help you guys as landlords to work with tenants … to give them the support they need to be better tenants,” Larned said. 

Leslie Kilgannon, director of the Quad Cities Housing Council, said landlords and housing organizations working together is a win-win scenario, since units need filled and people need housing. Showing landlords that organizations’ clients won’t just be dropped into housing then abandoned could give them more confidence in a potential partnership. 

“They’re looking for tenants who would be stable in their housing and would be a consistent payer of rent; that’s their interest,” Kilgannon said. “So if we can help bridge those gaps, it also meets a need for my agencies that are part of the cluster, because they have folks that need to find something safe, decent and affordable.” 

Jamey Licandro has worked with many of the represented organizations in his work as the owner of Licandro Management, which manages 440 units in Iowa and Illinois. Some of his units have been filled by clients of Veterans Affairs, Humility Homes & Services and Family Resources, and has seen few issues. 

He attended the lunch to gain more information on the programs these organizations offer, with the goal of collaborating with them more in the future. 

One of the biggest barriers he sees with relationships between landlords and tenants that may be struggling is a lack of communication. Being able to learn exactly how housing organizations can help and then providing all that information to tenants in need can benefit all three parties. 

“If we know what the program parameters are, then we can sort of help tenants, steer tenants in the right direction,” Licandro said. “Then these housing coordinators hopefully will say ‘Jamey’s good for this, or that type of property.'”

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Region: Northern,City: Quad Cities,Region: QC,Local

via qctimes.com – RSS Results in news/local of type article https://ift.tt/SaAs2bx

August 31, 2022 at 08:10PM

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