Monday, March 5, 2018

Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) Holds First Annual Landlord Appreciation Luncheon

Irving, Texas - It’s one of the most basic ideas at the core of every economy: For your product to reach its customer, you need a delivery system. Take the phone in your pocket, for example. If all Apple or Samsung did was manufacture the phone, it would never arrive in the country you live in, much less in your pocket. If this is true regarding phones, which are abundant, how much more so regarding housing for those who are experiencing homelessness, a much scarcer resource. 

This is why the 2009 HEARTH Act and Opening Doors, the national strategic plan to end homelessness, established under the Act, call for a homeless response system in each and every community, to be developed and operated by backbone organizations like the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA). Over the course of the last three years, MDHA has developed the extensive infrastructure necessary for a well-functioning homeless response system, to manage both the demand for and the supply of housing for those experiencing homelessness. Landlords and property owners are key to any such effort. 

On March 1, 2018, MDHA held its first annual Landlord Appreciation Luncheon, at the Las Colinas Country Club, in Irving, Texas, to thank those landlords who rent units to those who have experienced homelessness, and encourage other landlords to join their ranks. At the luncheon, Cindy J. Crain, MDHA President and CEO, emphasized, “Both landlords and MDHA want basically the same four things: Rent paid on time, a long uneventful lease, no police calls, and a well-maintained property.”

Stewart Hill, Pinnacle (left), and James McClinton, MDHA
James McClinton, MDHA Housing Resources Director, highlighted landlords that have translated this common set of goals into a win-win proposition: “There are some exceptional efforts taking place among you, through companies like Lumacorp, Pinnacle, Walker Holder and Lane Star Properties.”

Crain mentioned several steps MDHA has taken, over the last 12-18 months, on the supply side of the housing equation, to make renting to those experiencing homelessness an attractive option:
  • Created a dedicated housing supply staff at MDHA;
  • Developed a landlord incentive approach to building supply of housing options;
  • Assisting agencies to negotiate for rental units;
  • Expanded the MDHA Flex Fund to cover more deposits and fees;
  • Provide housing search training on site and in house;
  • Developed “insiders” list of open units;
  • Providing client pre-application background checks to develop more strategic housing planning.

Edd Eason, CitySquare (left) and Michael Walker, Walker-Holder
Crain also described a few of the steps MDHA has taken to streamline the demand side of the housing equation: 

  • Established a baseline Case Management standard of care for supportive housing;
  • Established common criteria and documentation and prioritization processes that organizes the demand for housing based on vulnerability, acuity and need;
  • Established a system-wide central housing list (the “Housing Priority List”) that is updated weekly;
  • Created a Homeless Crisis Helpline 1-888-411-6802;
  • Expanded homeless response system coordinating resources in Collin County;
  • Conducting continual countless trainings to improve the quality of care and the knowledge of case managers.
These steps have enabled MDHA to paint a true picture of the demand side of the housing equation, with hard data to back it up. “As of Monday, February 26, 2018, we have 787 households (families and individuals) on our Housing Priority List,” said Lester Collins, MDHA’s Performance Analyst, “This means that they have been assessed, prioritized, and have all their documents in order. They are ready to be housed.”
“That means that there is a great business opportunity here for landlords,” said Cynthia Scaife, MDHA Housing Resource Liaison, a licensed real estate agent, “We stand at the ready to help any and all who wish to take advantage of this demand, and help the most vulnerable citizens in our community in the process.”

Crain closed her remarks to the landlords with this message, “If we know one thing, it is this: We cannot make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring, without a trusting, honest, practical relationship with the rental housing community. So, today, we salute you, landlords who rent to our homeless friends. May many more join your ranks!”

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