By Chuck Sheldon, CPM, CCIM
President of T&C Management, LLC
Our distinguished, Mayor Richard Berry, has reached out to the community, for assistance with reducing homeless. This assistance is through placing homeless folks, into apartment homes. Participating with this program has it challenges, but it’s also rewarding. With several agencies participating, over 400 families, including individuals, have been placed into apartment homes, and communities.
How do you participate in eradicating Homeless when we have strict rental guidelines? When managing market rent properties we have sets of guidelines that help create consistency among our clients and help to create a successful residency. Typical policies and guidelines state: no felons, no evictions, no bad credit, and require a successful rental history. And to top it off, we must be consistent within our application process.
Well, the homeless meet none of these rules; in fact they are in violation of some of these rules, if not all of them. What to do? How do we stay consistent and not violate HUD housing guidelines, by treating clients differently, creating a different class of tenants.
When the Mayor’s initiative was launched with the focus on eliminating Veteran’s Homeless, I reached out to The Veterans Administration, and we created a Memorandum of Understanding, “MOU”, stating clients coming through a program, such as The Veterans Integration Center, “VIC”, we would set aside the standard rental guidelines, and use a set developed to allow clients with troubled pasts to rent an apartment. When living under a bridge, or in open spaces, without a job, food or money, it is hard not to have violated a law or ordinance. Consequently, it is imperative that we adjust our leasing standards to accommodate these individuals, by stating under what conditions we can provide housing. As of April 4, 2016, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued guidance urging housing providers to exorcize caution when implementing criminal history policies or practices used to make housing decisions. A person with a criminal history can challenge the housing provider’s decision, placing the burden on the housing provider to prove that their policies are in fact are non-discriminatory. The issue centers around creating desperate impact on a group of persons, as the preponderance of people with criminal histories are minorities. This direction now directs us to have a policy and evaluate applicants individually as to the type of criminal history they may have. For a copy of this direction, go to WWW.hud.gov.
The next step is to create relationships with the agencies supporting the mission of placing the homeless into affordable housing. We need to learn agency nomenclature, which will assist the client with their readjustment back into society and we need to get on a first name basis with their caseworker, creating a conduit which helps when a client intervention is required. Many of the homeless have PTSD, or some form of mental illness, most not acute, but they will need assistance until they can fully transition back into society. People that have lived on the street have learned to live within the frame work of the street society, which is not always conducive to living in an apartment community, consequently the need for a caseworker.
Why should we do this – go through all this work? Besides being the moral thing to do, there is an economic side to this equation. It has been proven that there is a 93% reduction in shelter costs, a 95.9% decrease in jail costs, 65.9% reduction in emergency room costs, and a forty per cent decrease in medical outpatient care costs. All these savings show a 31.6% savings in decreased costs to the community. Reference: www.abqheadinghome.org.
We have successfully housed over 50 families by working with agencies. The greatest reward is having a tenant who was destructive, get back on their medicine, become stable, purchases a vehicle, and ultimately, purchases a home. This veteran has successfully transitioned back into society. One star fish saved; if we each help one family or individual, we can make a difference.
Chuck Sheldon CCIM, CPM
T &C Management, LLC
Albuquerque NM, Suite 400