Program hopes more landlords will step up to help homeless

Program hopes more landlords will step up to help homeless

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There is a program in Charlotte that tries to find local landlords to step up and help the homeless.

Housing CLT gets money from the city of Charlotte, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Foundation for the Carolinas and the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

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Executive Director Harry Mack said many landlords require tenants to prove they earn three times their monthly rent, which is nearly impossible for homeless families.

Housing CLT partners ask landlords to relax their requirements on income and credit.

“There's a stigma a lot of times associated with housing programs,” Mack said.

There have only been five landlords who have participated in the program that started 1 1/2 years ago.

Some landlords worry that housing the homeless is too risky because the tenants would not be able to pay rent.

Patricia Owens, a single mother, knows the struggle of being homeless.

She and her teenage daughter, Jazmine, experienced that hardship twice.

“It was scary,” Owens said. “It was scary. I went to the shelter and I had to get turned away because they were full.”

Research by UNC-Charlotte found it would take 16,000 affordable rental units to prevent and end homelessness in Charlotte.

The Owenses have a roof over their head thanks to Housing CLT.

Mark Walter operates Bramar Gardens in west Charlotte and about 2,000 properties across the city.

He opened 10 percent to homeless families, but he understands why some landlords are hesitant.

“They've also got to make it where the landlords are not losing,” Walter said. “They've got to make sure it's profitable for them.”

That's what Housing CLT promises to do with risk mitigation funds -- to cover missed rent or any damage.

Mack hopes that guarantee is enough for more landlords to get involved.

“It could be part of the solution,” Mack said.

Owens said Housing CLT not only helped her find an apartment, it is helping her plan for the future.

“They teach you how to budget, they teach you how to save,” Owens said.

Owens hopes the program will help more families.

“They took a chance on me and my child, and I'm grateful for it,” Owens said.

Individuals or families must be referred to the Housing CLT program through an agency like the Salvation Army or the Women's Shelter.

Its goal is to get five homeless families in apartments each month.

The program recently received $25,000 from Myers Park Baptist Church to help pay rent or make repairs to apartments.

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