Advocacy Program seeks to help residents resolve issues with rental housing – Herald-Whig

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QUINCY — The Safe and Livable Housing Committee announced a new Advocate Program this week after working on the process for the past year.

The Advocate Program is designed to offer assistance to community members who need assistance in filing a complaint with the city against landlords regarding suspected violations in rental dwellings.

Thirty-one organizations, from churches to schools, have agreed to be available as advocates for tenants in need. The advocates will help residents complete the Minimum Housing Complaint Form to be filed to the city of Quincy.

The Safe and Livable Housing Commission noted at Monday’s City Council meeting that the complain form is not intended to be a first step in resolving issues. Tenants must be able to show that they’ve attempted to work with landlords and property owners to correct any deficiencies. When they efforts have failed, the complaint form will be filed to the city’s Inspection Department.

Along with assisting residents to prepare the forms, the volunteer advocate organizations will also be allowed to accompany the tenant and city inspectors at any check of properties believed to be in violation of city codes.

“One of the reasons Safe and Livable Housing has developed the Advocate Program is that many, if not most tenants living in substandard rental properties who want to report a violation are afraid to do so for fear of retaliation,” Father Joe Zimmerman, a member of the commission, said. “Having an Advocate organization and representative there to support and help the tenant will hopefully encourage more tenants to report their unsafe and unhealthy rental property.”

The SLHC will hold two public information and training sessions on the Advocate Program. The first will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Quincy Public Library’s Conference Room. The second will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at Quincy Unitarian Church, 16th and Hampshire in Quincy.

“We believe that overall, the Advocate Program has merit,” said Janet Conover, a member of the Safe and Livable Housing Commission. “Although not as effective as a rental housing ordinance, (this program) will help when needed and we applaud those organizations who have courageously agreed to help.”

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January 14, 2023 at 08:14AM

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