$15,000 Housing Alliance of PA: Good Landlord Program
PROGRAM: 2016 Small & Simple
GRANTEE: Housing Alliance of PA
The SWPA Housing Alliance received a $15,000 grant from Neighborhood Allies for a project to develop recommendations to build partnerships with landlords to provide additional affordable housing opportunities. This work included research into and consideration of resources for private market landlords to bring and keep affordable homes up to code. While not part of this project, the goal is to then advance the adoption of priority recommendations in the City of Pittsburgh. Such a program can create a pipeline of private market rental units for tenant based rental assistance programs through the homeless system and for Housing Choice Voucher recipients as well as shorten episodes of homelessness, improve Housing Choice Voucher utilization rates, prevent eviction and improve overall quality of affordable homes for lower income households in neighborhoods across Pittsburgh.
Through a three pronged strategy consisting of focus groups with landlords themselves, dialogue with local partners, and research into practices in place in other communities, the Housing Alliance developed a report with a set of recommendations for taking their work to the next level to expand relationships with landlords and therefore affordable housing opportunities. This report has been reviewed with a smaller group of stakeholders and was officially released at an event on February 2nd, 2017. The Housing Alliance researched examples of landlord incentives that include financial risk reduction strategies, rehab program models and training incentives from 8 different communities. This research was used to inform a discussion that took place via outreach to 32 landlords with 10 landlords in 4 different focus groups that were grouped by portfolio size. We were able to draw on the expertise of Dr. Zuberi Ph.D. from Duquesne University to facilitate the focus groups. Findings from the research and focus groups were used to produce a White Paper that includes a summary of research of best practices on rental rehab and repair funds and a summary of findings from the landlord focus groups along with the recommendations for additional strategies and programs to partner with landlords.
This project has given the Housing Alliance a new depth of understanding of the role landlords and real estate investors play in this piece of the market. It has also brought to light the opportunity to engage landlords and real estate investors in partnership to help ensure that there is a diversity of housing options for all people from all walks of life and levels of income and that all housing is safe, sanitary, and within reach of those who are dependent on its affordability. While this project most certainly focused on Pittsburgh many of its findings can be applied to communities across the state. This project also gives the Housing Alliance the evidence based information to create a solutions oriented dialogue. The challenges experienced in the rental market are nuanced and would be best mitigated by a suite of interventions that balances needs and market conditions.