Landlord Finds Stability Leasing to Veterans in Colorado Springs
Landlord who leases to a veteran struggling to pay rent receives financial stability through the Pikes Peak Veterans Housing Fund.
Clark Brewer, a landlord in Colorado Springs, did not want to evict his tenant. The U.S. military veteran who rented from him was a good guy, but just didn’t quite have the wherewithal to make his rent.
Enter the Homes for All Veterans (HAV) program at Rocky Mountain Human Services.
Alison Gerbig, HAV program manager, connected Brewer to the Pikes Peak Veteran Housing Fund (PPVHF), a community program created to increase housing stability for vulnerable veterans experiencing homelessness and are struggling to obtain safe, stable housing.
By offering incentives, direct case management and compensation to landlords if damage and unpaid rent are incurred, the fund creates strong relationships with landlords who otherwise might not lease to veterans and families exiting homelessness. For Brewer and his tenant, the fund helps cover rent costs.
The veteran who rents from Brewer relies on his Social Security Income (SSI) check to cover most of his rent. The SSI he receives does not cover the full costs of rent and the veteran struggles to make ends meet. Brewer established a relationship with his tenant over the years and did not want to evict him. For Brewer, the most appealing part of the HAV program was that his tenant would have a case manager to support him along the way.
“Sometimes the people who need the assistance the most don’t have the savviness to navigate through the social systems,” Brewer said.
Brewer cares about his tenants and made time in his busy schedule to help him find resources to help pay for rent. Brewer is the managing partner and cofounder of Loyalty Realty LLC, and has two additional jobs that keep him busy throughout the week.
The veteran’s case manager has provided the kind of help that has allowed Brewer to get some of time back while knowing his tenant is getting the assistance he needs.
The situation that Brewer and his tenant are navigating is exacerbated by increasing rents in Colorado Springs. Tenants who live on a fixed income are not always able to cover the gap between rent and income. Community programs like PPVHF help support vulnerable veterans find the support they need. Through the network of landlords, the program works to cover housing costs of vulnerable veterans.
“The deposit is a big barrier for families that need the housing the most,” said Brewer who has years’ of experience in real estate. For people living on a fixed income, such as social security or disability checks, it is hard to cover deposits.
Brewer looks forward to working with HAV. He hopes the partnership will alleviate concerns involving criminal history, alcoholism and smoking habits that could lead to other issues.
Fortunately, the community of Colorado Springs is working to ease these typical concerns that landlords have. The mayor of Colorado Springs recently announced the latest addition to the Pikes Peak Veteran Housing Fund that will cover damages in veteran housing units’ or cover deposits. The fund will cover up to $2,000 worth of damages for each veteran if a veteran leaves a unit with damages.
In addition to landlord and resident case management, the PPVHF offers other types of financial compensation available including: diversion, security deposits, application and administrative fees, gap payments, damages and mitigation and utility arrears. The fund has a cap of $2,500 per client per year.
“The fund serves as an insurance policy for the landlords,” said Gerbig, HAV program manager.
The mitigation fund was created to encourage private landlords, in particular, to rent to veterans who are traditionally denied access to rental properties based on housing barriers. The PPVHF works as a backup plan, if needed, for the landlord to cover damages that exceed traditional security deposits.
Gerbig believes that even though the community has made great strides toward helping veterans secure housing, there are still more than 300 veterans experiencing homelessness.
“Our community’s sole remaining unmet criteria for reaching this threshold is housing more veterans per quarter than those veterans that are newly identified as experiencing homelessness,” Gerbig said.
Lack of affordable housing is a challenge nationwide. In California, for example, the state has found that shared housing opportunities reduce the likelihood of damages. That reduction comes from shared values in those communities.
PPVHF can incentivize private landlords and homeowners who typically rent a single-family home to one household, to consider renting an individual bedroom to a veteran who may only be able to pay $400 – $500 per month, including utilities.
The additional help, combined with the ongoing support of case managers, decreases significant barriers so that veterans may find safe and stable housing.