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Landlord Guarantee program encourages renting to homeless

October 11, 2017

Neighborhood Development

Published by:

Neighborhood Development

The new City initiative will support landlords who choose to rent to homeless individuals and families.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today that the City of Boston has launched the Landlord Guarantee Pilot Program, a new initiative that will support landlords who choose to rent to homeless individuals and families that rely on outside financial support and resources. Participating landlords receive a dedicated landlord partner from the Office of Housing Stability, access to landlord resources including mediation services and access to funds for losses such as unpaid rent and excessive damages.

"Boston is committed to making sure all individuals and families have stable, long-term housing -- and that means we have to work with landlords to encourage them to rent to those homeless renters who may not be able to meet traditional tenant requirements," said Mayor Walsh. "This is an innovative program designed to encourage more housing options for all, and I thank all our landlords, tenants and partners who made this program possible."
 
The Landlord Guarantee Program supports Boston's Way Home, the Walsh Administration's plan to end veteran and chronic homelessness in Boston, and is run through the Department of Neighborhood Development's Office of Housing Stability (OHS). Interested landlords submit a program application to OHS. Once the application is received, potential tenants are referred to participating landlords. The Landlord Guarantee Program is only open to landlords with properties in the City of Boston.  
 
Landlords who participate in the Landlord Guarantee Program are entitled to three key benefits, including reimbursement up to $10,000 for losses such as unpaid rent, repairs for tenant damage, insurance deductibles and certain court costs. In addition, participating landlords will receive a Landlord Partner through OHS. The Landlord Partner supports the success of the landlord-tenant relationship, providing assistance or referrals to help resolve issues that may affect the continuation of the tenancy. 
 
"When the apartment in our two-family home became vacant, we were very excited to find out about the Landlord Guarantee program," said Mary McCarthy and Liz Breadon, Brighton residents and landlords, respectively, who are participating in the program. "We had heard of a family that had become homeless, but wanted to return to Brighton, where they had a community of support. With the support of the City's Office of Housing Stability, the rental of our apartment to a formerly homeless family has been great and we are very happy and secure in the ongoing support this program gives us. Thank you for the Landlord Guarantee Pilot Program. It is a great step toward returning people to a home and stabilizing our neighborhoods by working with both landlords and tenants."
 
Prospective tenants in the Landlord Guarantee Program are families and individuals who have been homeless and are actively seeking a home now. Many households have a stable monthly income; some are pursuing education and job training opportunities. Each household will receive federal or state rental assistance; part of their rent will be paid directly to the landlord.
 
Each household also comes with the support of a case manager to help previously homeless households stabilize as they transition to permanent residency, which may include assistance in budgeting and finance, apartment etiquette, or any other life skills needed to be a successful renter. Tenant participants receive at least six months of case management services and may receive these services longer, depending on household need.
 
The Landlord Guarantee program is based on a national model, designed to help property owners, tenants and community partners end homelessness in cities with highly competitive rental markets and extremely low vacancy rates. This program model is currently being used  successfully in cities such as Seattle, Portland and Denver. Hundreds of families and individuals have been housed nationally; of those, only between three and five percent of landlords have needed to request reimbursement from the guarantee fund.
 
"Having spoken with professionals running these programs nationwide the past three years, I can confidently tell you this approach works," said Peter Shapiro, Jamaica Plain Property Owner and author of The Good Landlord. "Participating landlords express pride and joy in being able to make a profit while making a difference -- while our nation's homeless get the housing they need. DND's new initiative is exciting not only because it will house the homeless faster, but because it will create landlord partnerships that can make housing work for everyone! I'll be applying to this program the next time I have a unit available."
 
Landlords interested in participating in the program can contact the Office of Housing Stability at 617-635-4200 (Option 3) or landlordpartner@boston.gov.
 
About the Office of Housing Stability

The City of Boston's Office of Housing Stability works to prevent displacement through promoting housing preservation and tenant stabilization. The office offers Boston residents housing crisis support; provides information about tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities; develops new programs and resources; and researches, drafts, and implements policies designed to prevent displacement and keep communities intact.  

About Boston's Way Home

Boston's Way Home, the City of Boston's plan to end veteran and chronic homelessness, has redesigned the way Boston offers services to homeless individuals. Rather than counting on shelter as the solution to the issue, Boston has moved toward a housing-first model, where an individual's entrance into the shelter system is also their entrance to a path toward permanent, stable housing.

In January 2016, Mayor Walsh announced Boston had ended chronic veteran homelessness; to date, nearly 850 homeless veterans have been housed. In 2016, the City scaled up its efforts to end chronic homelessness; since January of 2016, 391 chronically homeless individuals have been housed, representing 2,300 years of homelessness ended.

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