BY DEBBIE PAGE
The Davie, Iredell, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin (DISSY) Regional Committee of the Balance of State Continuum of Care and Fifth Street Ministries will present “Resources for Landlords: A Networking and Information-Sharing Event” on Tuesday, July 27, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Statesville Housing Authority’s Collier Enrichment Center at 110 West Allison Avenue in Statesville.
Michele Knapp, executive director of Fifth Street Ministries, said that Iredell County attendees will learn how to get tenants’ rents paid on time and how to fill vacancies quickly through supportive housing programs and approaches for both landlords and tenants.
The event, which will include breakfast and door prize opportunities, will also cover COVID-19 updates and available financial assistance to landlords and tenants and provide the opportunity to network with agencies and partners to help their tenants stay housed.
Knapp hopes the event will yield safe, affordable housing opportunities in the area for families and singles already approved for expanded Back at Home Rapid Rehousing funds available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
These clients have barriers to finding housing, including poor credit or rental history or low income, but the Rapid Rehousing program offers cash incentives to landlords to give these people a second chance.
“You just don’t know what’s going to happen if you give a person a chance. It could be the best thing that ever happened to somebody, ” said Knapp.
“I know they’ve had a rough history, but we offer case management and rental assistance for these people for up to two years.”
Fifth Street serves as a liaison between the landlord and the tenant, working to resolve issues and teaching tenants how to live independently.
“We just need assistance in finding affordable housing units. The housing has to be within a reasonable rental amount for the area, which is about $823 for a two-bedroom apartment,” Knapp said.
The program can provide financial assistance to reduce the rental rate to meet “rent reasonableness” guidelines for this area.
“We are looking for landlords to participate. We have plenty of clients — we just don’t have plenty of landlords,” Knapp said.
Fifth Street is currently working with many landlords and clients and have had no problems emerge but “the landlords we currently have have no units available.”
Six households are currently approved to enter housing through the program, with many more on the waiting list.
Knapp said they are trying to be creative, housing six clients as paired roommates in the past with success. They are also looking at rental property and apartment availability in the other service area counties as well as Rowan County to move them into housing and case management assistance faster.
Fifth Street has helped many individuals and families through the original Rapid Rehousing Program over the last seven years, according to Knapp.
“Everybody deserves housing,” she said. “That’s a basic human right to have housing, a roof over their head, shelter of some sort, and we’re just trying to make that happen.”
Knapp said theses people “have so many different barriers to housing, unfortunately, and we are just trying to work through those, and if the landlords can give us a little bit of help with that, we can successfully house people and get them out of homeless.”
One Rapid Rehousing success story is Gina, who tragically lost her child in 2019. She plunged into severe depression and a range of other psychological issues.
Gina sought help from professionals and took refuge with her brother, but their strained relationship led her to living in the Fifth Street shelter and meeting Mary Williams, the agency’s Rapid Re-Housing Case Manager, who helped her put life back on track.
“Mary helped me find an apartment, and it’s a perfect setting for me. I can walk to my job, and I feel very secure,” she said. “Mary meets with me once a month for a check-in. She helps me with my budget and makes sure I’m well. She’s absolutely wonderful.”
As for the future, Gina said, “I am open to what God puts in front of me, and I’m working on finding Gina again.”
The person or family has to be homeless, according to federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines. This definition includes people living in a shelter or living in a place not meant for habitation (abandoned building, shed, camper, tent) or victims of domestic violence.
Also, if the person or family is living in a motel room paid for by an helping agency such as the Salvation Army or the Department of Social Services, they would be defined as homeless in the program guidelines.
“Living on a friend’s couch unfortunately does not qualify because they have a roof over their head,” said Knapp.
To pre-apply for Rapid Rehousing financial and supportive assistance, a candidate can call 211 and ask for a referral to Fifth Street Ministries, who will then conduct the person’s qualification process.
WANT TO ATTEND?
Please RSVP to 336-312-7490 or to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, July 26.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact Fifth Street Ministries at (704) 872-4045.