Craigslist Housing Search Response

27 07 2009

By: John Gill

One approach our group took to find housing for the homeless was through Craigslist.

Craigslist being the online version of a newspaper lists available homes to rent and homes for sale. What we hoped to achieve by contacting these individuals was that we could get a sense of the availability of homes in the Tri-Cities areas and listen to some of the landlords main concerns first hand.

Four people were emailed and their responses are as follow:

2 said No.

1 Said that she was looking for students only.

1 is no response.

Eight people were contacted by phone and their responses are as follow:

5 said definite No’s and that they were looking for couples or full time students as renters.

1 had no comment

2 Individual’s requested additional information, such as if a premium was offered and if a recognized charity would be on the rental agreement as well? They were quite receptive to the idea of the Church helping out and supplementing the rental rate.

However, they also listed some additional concerns:

If the homeless individuals were unemployed again, what would happen? What are the services that will help them and how will they help and monitor them? is it going to be like a half way house? Will social workers come and go often? Will they attract other homeless individuals to stay at the suite? What will happen if they start to use drugs and alcohol again? Who would they call if there was a problem with the tenant?  What if damages were caused to the suite, who would be liable? What about landlord’s safety, if they have a issue with the tenant, what should they do? What steps would they (landlord) have to take to evict the homeless? Are they stuck with them for a long period of time? Are there any special tenancy contract that needs to be filled out?  Mainly they were concerned with the legal aspects of housing a homeless and if by allowing this pilot study are they committing themselves for an indefinite time frame.

The idea of having to evict the homeless seemed problematic to the landlords as they have the perception that the current laws and tenancy boards are usually heavily favoring the tenants, not the landlords. So they are extremely careful on the types of people they rent their suites out to. Another aspect that was difficult to overcome what the initial stigma of being homeless, what and why they were homeless was often brought up in the conversations. It was difficult to explain and trying to change people’s mind on their own prejudices and preconceived notions on why people were living on the streets.

From this small sample size it seems that landlords have some common conditions that need to be met before they would consider renting to a homeless individual.

1)      Preferably employed, if not on government assistance.

2)      Criminal and Background check needs to be provided

3)      Tenants must not be addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

4)      List of requirements and who is going to oversea such tasks.

5)      Church/Charity/Government agency co-signing for the tenants and being on the rental agreement.

6)      Church/charity/ government agency that will pay for damages incurred in the suite.

7)      Assurance on how to evict tenants if need be.

8)      Lawyer’s drawing up binding contracts that protect the interest of Landlords.

9)      Services such as home renovation and tax exemptions’ needs to be approved before hand.

10) They have to interview the tenant and have the final say of

approval.

The landlords understand that there is a fine line of respecting the privacy of tenants and being overly controlling. But it seemed they were especially concerned about homeless individual peer’s visiting and bunk in their suites. Also, if they start to sell drugs out of their basement suites was a enormous concern.

It seems there is a huge ignorance gap between landlords and the awareness of the profile of a homeless person. The common connotation is that they are drug and alcohol users and that is why they are on the streets still exists. It feels like landlords view renting to homeless a huge risk rather than an incentive. So if we could outline or provide some sort of additional landlord benefits, it would help a long way to convincing them to consider renting to a homeless individual.

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2 responses

27 07 2009
cbunga

I think your findings are adequate to represent most landlords not only in Tri Cities area, but Greater Vancouver in general. How do you guys go about the issues then? What kind of benefit are you thinking of to convince the landlords to accept a homeless person as a tenant?

27 07 2009
Hannah Kim

Hi there, thanks for your comment and question.

I believe that with potential incentives like lower property taxes and utilities fees charged by the government for landlords who agree to assist the homeless, the donation-based giving circle (for subsidizing homeless clients’ rent) has high potential to succeed. The homeless clients could even be involved in periodically repairing and maintaining the rental unit, and the local business community could perhaps donate materials and services for the same purpose (just like in the investment giving circle model).

I hope that answers your question. 🙂

Thanks,
Hannah

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