OC Rental Property Owners Get a Win-Win When They Help to End Homelessness for Veterans through WelcomeHomeOC℠
Each year as we enter November and Veteran’s Day approaches, we are reminded of how important it is to demonstrate our gratitude to the men and women who protect and preserve freedom across our nation and around the world. While veterans may welcome expressions of gratitude, often these expressions are not enough. Thousands of homeless veterans are living on the streets or in cars in Orange County and nationwide.
United to End Homelessness, an initiative from Orange County United Way, is committed to ending homelessness in Orange County so that everyone has a place to call home. Through WelcomeHomeOC, a program launched in 2018, United to End Homelessness has helped more than 500 formerly homeless individuals, including 100 veterans, find safe and stable places to live.
One of these veterans is Chase. After experiencing a series of misfortunes, Chase found himself homeless and living in his car when he could not make rent payments consistently. Fortunately, Chase was put in touch with WelcomeHomeOC, which helped him find an apartment that would accept his HUD Veteran’s Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) voucher. “After serving in the Middle East, the gratitude I have for a home comes from the deepest portion of my heart,” said Chase.
WelcomeHomeOC works closely with rental property owners and managers to identify available rental units. The program then streamlines leasing those rentals to prescreened voucher holders—including veterans with VASH vouchers—with guaranteed monthly rent direct deposits from the Housing Authority, low turnover, high retention rates, and other incentives. In addition, WelcomeHomeOC protects against potential losses by paying daily holding fees and security deposits of two month’s rent and purchasing furniture for program residents.
For Orange County rental property owners, this program is truly a win-win. It is designed to turn market-rate rentals into affordable housing by subsidizing what the voucher holder can pay. Voucher holders pay 30 percent of their income toward housing expenses, and the Housing Authority deposits the rest of the rent into the property owner’s account via direct deposit. Property owners reap favorable business benefits while playing an important role in ending homelessness. Since the program’s inception, WelcomeHomeOC property partners have received 100 percent of rents due. The program also has a 95 percent retention rate for those who have been in the program twelve months or more, and no tenants have been evicted.
Property owners do not subsidize rent. Instead, they collect the rental assistance subsidy directly from the Housing Authority. They can charge market rates for apartments and adjust the amount as the market changes. WelcomeHomeOC also offers housing stabilization services to the tenants to help them develop the life skills they need to become more responsible, desirable tenants.
More property providers are needed to increase the number of rental units available to house veterans and other homeless neighbors. One compelling reason to join WelcomeHomeOC is that property owners and managers have dedicated support for leasing vacant units, which reduces the time and labor needed to identify and screen prospective tenants and expedites the approval process with the Housing Authority.
If you own rental properties, please consider joining the seventy-five property owners who are currently a part of the WelcomeHomeOC network and help spread the word about this opportunity to your clients and contacts.
For more information about the WelcomeHomeOC property owner network, visit WelcomeHomeOC.org or contact the Property Engagement Team at WelcomeHomeOC@UnitedWayOC.org.