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Learning from Each Other: the Ready to Rent© Program and Rent Guarantee Fund in Portland, OR

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Agency: Housing Authority of Portland
(Size of WtW Program: 700 vouchers)

Challenge

Assisting program participants in making the transition from public housing to the private rental market can be a difficult task for any housing authority. Program participants often suffer from prior evictions, poor credit history, or poor tenancy records. The challenge is for PHAs to make these participants renter-ready and to provide "insurance" to potential landlords against future tenancy problems.

Solution: the Portland Housing Center's Ready to Rent© Program

Ready to Rent© is a comprehensive standardized-housing-readiness-training program that targets tenants otherwise unable to rent due to prior evictions, poor credit history, or poor tenancy records. Ready to Rent© provides an innovative solution involving Welfare-to-Work families, landlords, housing authority staff, and various members of the Portland professional community. The State of Oregon also supports the Ready to Rent© program through an established $360,000 rent guarantee fund. This fund serves as an incentive to landlords to rent to Ready to Rent© trained tenants. Through this fund, landlords can be reimbursed unpaid rent for one month, and/or allowable repairs in the first six months of tenancy.

Implementation

To implement the program, an Advisory Council was formed with representation from landlord associations, the Portland Housing Authority, social service agencies, the legal community, government agencies, and a screening company. The Advisory Council then developed a tenant curriculum and plan for delivering the curriculum using designated personnel from Adult and Family Services (AFS). The Portland Housing Center conducted a "train the trainers" session for AFS personnel to train and certify them to provide Ready to Rent© training to tenants. The curriculum was then finalized by a curriculum developer who developed both tenant and trainer manuals. As part of this curriculum, a six-section workbook was developed for tenants based upon action items that tenants must do in order to rent, as well as a step-by-step approach for preparing, finding, maintaining, and vacating rental housing.

Once the curriculum was ready to go, AFS identified participants for the Ready to Rent© training. Upon completing the training, participants received a Ready to Rent© certificate and a Section 8 housing choice voucher. Participants were also provided with a list of participating landlords. To reserve access to the Rent Guarantee Fund, landlords submitted a reservation form to the Portland Housing Center with a checklist signed by both the landlord and tenant. To support the program, the Portland Housing Center administers the Rent Guarantee Fund and handles claims for rent or repairs beyond normal wear and tear.

Please view the Ready to Rent© Program Description for more information on the specific goals and components of this program.

Results

With an April 2000 start date, the program is still too new to evaluate. However, the program has already served 46 families and has demonstrated that it is an innovative way to break down leasing barriers, cultivate positive leasing habits within families, and provide a community-building tool that helps maintain vital working relationships with area landlords.

Contact: Peg Malloy, Executive Director Portland Housing Center

 
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