When searching for a building or units of housing to lease as part of a supportive housing project, you should carefully consider your prospective tenants’ needs and the goals of your project. It may be helpful to think through the following questions:
- What size unit(s) is needed to accommodate the expected household sizes and compositions?
- What location(s) do the prospective tenants need and want? Consider proximity to work, school, supportive services and social supports like family and friends.
- Do the tenant households have any accessibility needs? Do the units need to be on the ground floor? In an elevator building? Be wheelchair-accessible?
- Are there amenities such as laundry or workout facilities that are particularly important to tenants?
- How many total units are needed for your project?
Once you have a sense of the desired features and locations of the units that will be part of your project there are many different avenues that can be used to identify available units of housing. Some of these are outlined below:
- Property management firms that may manage a number of different properties and have listings.
- Landlords who already have a relationship with one of the project partners.
- State- or city-wide housing location websites such as those provided by www.socialserve.com.
- Landlord associations.
- Existing landlords with a relationship with the service provider or housing management organization.
- Real estate agents or brokers who may help with your site search, since they are often knowledgeable about the residential real estate market.
- Conducting a “windshield survey” of the target neighborhood(s), identifying potential buildings or units for rent.
Once a potential housing unit or units have been identified, it may be necessary to advocate with the property owner to lease units or a building to your organization. You can offer the property owner the following benefits:
- A guarantee that the rent will be paid on time.
- No vacancy loss for the units that are leased as part of the project.
- A contact housing management staff person to call with questions or concerns (if the tenant has given permission.)
- Tenants who are educated on being good neighbors and who are, in most cases, receiving support for any issues that might threaten their housing stability.
- The ability to quickly fill future units via free marketing through the supportive housing partners.
- Depending on the subsidy source, the ability to receive payment for any damages in excess of the security deposit.
- In some instances, repairs or property management provided by the lessor.