It’s simple math. For an HCV program to be successful, the program needs enough landlords. Landlords provide the most important aspect to HCV participants – the place to live. Unfortunately, affordable housing programs are oftentimes surrounded by misconceptions and participation hesitancy. Arizona Quadel (AZQ) Managing Director, Andre Serrette, offers his thoughts on how to increase landlord participation and how AZQ has found success in one of the nation’s tightest rental markets.
Communicate and Educate on a Personal Level
Serrette has been leading the charge to house as many HCV participants as possible. Phoenix is home to one of the most competitive and fastest-growing rental markets in the country. Serrette knows he needs to communicate and educate landlords to increase the number of units within the program to house program participants.
“Ultimately, you need landlords to run the programs. It doesn’t matter how many vouchers you have or how much funding you have if there is no place for tenants to live. I think the goal is to make sure you are educating (landlords) about what the HCV program is and what it is that you are really trying to do,” Serrette said. “We’ve done a couple of Landlord Open Houses where we had a bunch of different service stops where landlords received topic-specific assistance tailored to their needs. It gave us the opportunity, on a personal level, to talk to landlords individually instead of a big presentation. At these events, they can walk around and have the opportunity to get a bit more comfortable with (the program.) I think those have been very effective.”
Implement and Utilize Incentives
As part of the CARES Act, funds were allocated to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus among individuals and families who are homeless or receiving homeless assistance. In addition, the funds could be used to support additional homeless assistance and homelessness prevention activities to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Since the funds became available, Serrette and AZQ staff have implemented a $500 incentive for each unit a landlord leases to an HCV participant. The incentives are open to both current and new landlords, and Serrette believes the incentives have been vital in increasing landlord participation and units in the HCV program.
“If a landlord leases up with an HCV participant/applicant, he or she gets the money. We have been able to lease those units pretty quickly after a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract was signed,” Serrette said. “(Landlords know) they have choices right now. If they have a unit or something available and they advertise it, they could get hundreds of applications for one unit. So, we are trying to do something to differentiate ourselves and make sure HCV clients are also being considered for units.”
Ensure Program Operations are Efficient
As housing continues to be impacted by COVID-19, Serrette knows the need for more landlords and units will only increase for the foreseeable future. Whether an HCV program is undergoing a large lease-up effort or simply wants to continue a steady lease-up of units, program directors and managers must make sure program operations are running smoothly, safely and efficiently.
Otherwise, delays in the leasing process could result in a lack of interest from landlords.
“You need to make sure your processes are good and that landlords don’t have a bad perception of the housing authority and its operations. For example, if they request somebody to live in their unit and it takes a housing authority weeks to schedule an inspection, contact them, or negotiate rent, that is money a landlord is losing,” Serrette said. “It’s important that the operations are good and tight so when they do request it, they know the housing authority is going to get back quickly. You can’t take your time because later on down the road if they have other units and they think the housing authority takes too long, they will be less likely to continue participating.”
For more information about becoming a landlord for the City of Phoenix Housing Department, visit: https://www.phoenix.gov/housing/section-8-resources/landlord.