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Landlords Can Sign Up for Rent-Guaranteed Program to House Homeless Angelenos During the Pandemic and Beyond

A keychain hangs from a lock on a doorknob.
A keychain hangs from a lock on a doorknob. | Flickr/Alan Levine/Creative Commons/Public Domain
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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority today urged property owners to sign up for the LeaseUp program, which matches landlords with people experiencing homelessness, with rent guaranteed by the government.

The program is funded by LAHSA and Los Angeles County, and since its launch in November, it has grown to a total of 1,201 privately owned rental apartments for previously unhoused people.

According to LAHSA, 600 of the property owners chose to add more of their units after participating in the program.

Landlords receive a holding fee to account for delays while the program works to fill an empty unit, as well as a $10,000 government-backed insurance policy.

They also receive 24-hour property owner support, including a dedicated housing specialist and case manager who does a monthly check-in to the property.

Jennifer Hark-Dietz, deputy chief executive officer and executive director of People Assisting The Homeless (PATH), which operates the program, said: “This is a classic case of ‘doing good by doing well.’ The landlords who already participate in this program are receiving market rates with government guarantees. The renters who are moving in to these apartments are finding a place they can call home that they've badly wanted and needed.”

LeaseUp is part of the county's strategy for landlord engagement in housing people experiencing homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For property owners, it's a dream come true. That rent is guaranteed to come to you each month without having to hit anybody up for it, without anybody missing a month,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said about the program Wednesday.

Property owner, Pacific Crest Real Estate founder and city of Los Angeles Housing Authority Commissioner Daniel Tenenbaum said: “I'm a real estate syndicator, and my obligation to my investors is to maximize their return. With LeaseUp, I can fulfill that obligation while also doing the right thing for our community.”

“We get strong holding fees and reliable monthly rent payments at a time that many apartment owners are having collection issues. We get market rate rents for our units, and minimize the amount of turnover for units that would otherwise turn over more frequently. We tend to have longer tenancy, and when someone moves out, they fill it quickly. So we maximize occupancy for the units, and have higher revenues as a result.”

Pacific Crest Property Manager Demetria Sells said that when one of Pacific Crest's units is vacated, they let PATH know that it's empty and then immediately receive a holding fee.

PATH works to fill the unit within two months.

“Our tenants have been wonderful. When you see what's happening on our streets, I wonder why more places aren't doing this,” Sells said.

The program helped previously unhoused Irvin Martinez exit the Project Roomkey program, which provides temporary housing in hotel rooms, and move into a studio apartment last week. He previously spent two years in shelters.

“When COVID first hit, I was staying in a shelter in Echo Park, but they had to limit the amount of people inside so there wasn't space left for me,” Martinez said.

“I looked everywhere for housing, checking online, and going through Craigslist, but no one was accepting third-party payments. But then my housing navigator, Tyson, came through. Tyson called me and told me about this studio, I took a look, I loved it and a week later, I moved into my own apartment. Now that I'm here, I can focus on my education at L.A Trade Tech. I'm studying diesel mechanics and hope to graduate and begin a career as a mechanic,” he said.

Martinez's housing navigator, Tyson Pursley, who works for A Bridge Home, said he is working with 25 households, half of which are homeless for the first time after being evicted despite the COVID-19 eviction moratorium.

“LeaseUp is the first place I look now to find units. These are people who have hit hard times. When they can move into their own home, they have the time, peace of mind and space to work on their health, family, education and careers,” Pursley said.

Property owners who want to sign up for the program can call 323-428- 4742, email leaseupla@epath.org or go to leaseupla.org.

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