Courting landlords with vouchers: guaranteed incentives for willingness to rent to homeless

Over 25 prospective landlords heard about the advantages of housing vouchers and how they are awarded to qualified renters at an event put on by SHRA, Hope Cooperative and Sacramento Steps Forward on Wednesday, May 22. (Photo by Karina Riley)

By Ken Magri

In an effort to get more homeless people into better living situations, several voucher programs offer opportunities that can transition the unhoused into temporary or permanent housing.

Vouchers are part of a federal program funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that assists homeless, very low-income families, older adults and people with disabilities in finding housing within the private rental market. 

But these programs need to find more landlords willing to accept such a rental arrangement between themselves and the government. On May 22, three local housing organizations hosted a panel discussion aimed at doing just that. 

Panelists represented the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA), the nonprofits Hope Cooperative and Sacramento Steps Forward, and two landlords who currently accept vouchers. About 30 prospective landlords heard details of how housing vouchers are awarded to qualified renters. The first panelist to speak was a former homeless person, Steven Seeley, who moved into permanent supportive housing four years ago with the help of the Hope Cooperative.

“When I heard about the voucher program, I didn’t know what it was,” Seeley said. He explained that once he decided to change the trajectory of his life, the voucher program helped him to get stabilized and alleviated his concern about falling back into homelessness. “Now, I do what I love the most, which is coaching basketball, and I coach at the Salvation Army youth league,” he said, adding, “It’s all because a landlord decided to take a chance on me.”

Steven Seeley, who moved into permanent supportive housing four years ago with the help of the Hope Cooperative, was one of the panelists at the event on Wednesday, May 22. (Photo courtesy of Karina Riley)

Vouchers can be for temporary, transitional or long-term permanent supportive housing, depending on the program. Some vouchers include social support services referred to as Continuum of Care (CoC). These services assist tenants in making their transition out of homelessness and back into mainstream society. They include mental health care, crisis respite services, wellness centers, and an individual case manager who supports the tenant’s transition into housing and beyond. 

Hope Cooperative offers interim housing for up to six months and transitional housing for up to 18 months before trying to move tenants into a permanent situation. Because single adults have the greatest need for shelter, the organization primarily needs landlords with one-bedroom apartments. To ensure a better relationship between the tenant and landlord, Hope Cooperative handles its own property inspections, requires or provides renters insurance, and encourages new tenants to attend their “ready-to-rent” class.

Single-family homes are also needed for homeless families or shared adult living arrangements — SHRA participates in that voucher program. Panelist Algie Mosley, a senior program analyst with SHRA, explained the housing authority’s recent efforts to streamline its administrative process and make things easier for the landlord. “We have dedicated emails and a dedicated phone line, all of it to better serve you,” Mosley told the crowd. 

SHRA Program Manager Troy Lynch explained that their new landlord portal includes an inspection-tracking system and simpler payment methods. “We want to reduce the amount of time from when you received the initial rent agreement to when you actually get your money,” Lynch said.

While the advantage for landlords is a government check that automatically deposits into their bank accounts, such rental arrangements can be discouraging for a landlord when “the tenant is not ready to make a transition,” said panelist Jeff Slodowitz of J&R Property Management, who matches landlords with tenants. For that reason, the Hope Cooperative has a 24-hour client crisis response line and a dedicated housing manager that landlords can talk to. If the rental arrangement doesn’t work out, the organization will assist in moving the tenant out and pay for damages that exceed the amount of the original security deposit.

Erin Johansen, formerly the CEO of Hope Cooperative, was one of the panelists at an event put on by SHRA, Hope Cooperative and Sacramento Steps Forward to discuss advantages of housing vouchers with prospective landlords on Wednesday, May 22. (Photo by Fred Greaves) 

While vouchers do not require renters insurance, some landlords request it. “We encourage our clients to buy it and help them with our county mental health flexible funds if they need the help,” said panelist Erin Johansen, formerly the CEO of Hope Cooperative

“There will be hiccups,” said panelist Jeff Slodowitz, of J&R Property Management, who matches landlords with tenants. “We had one pretty big hiccup, but the [Hope Cooperative]  came right in and put the unit back together at no expense to my owner,” he said adding that as a result, the owner agreed to stay involved and rented to another unhoused tenant. 

“We stand behind, next to and with our client. Most of the time we will be able to switch out that tenant with another tenant without an eviction process,” said panelist Rachel Bereza, deputy CEO of Sacramento Steps Forward. 

SSF awards emergency housing vouchers and operates the 2-1-1 emergency phone number for those who need additional services such as food, counseling and employment assistance. The 2-1-1 call is confidential and available in more than 200 languages and dialects. 

“As a community we have to believe that homelessness is solvable, and we have to have plans that are measurable and data driven to get there,” Bereza said.

The panelists urged any landlord interested in renting out an apartment to call Shelley Sedenquist at Hope Cooperative at (916) 247-708. Interested landlords who have a house to rent are asked to email Algie Mosley at or call (916) 440-8552.

This story is part of the Solving Sacramento journalism collaborative. Solving Sacramento is supported by funding from the James Irvine Foundation and the James B. McClatchy Foundation. Our partners include California Groundbreakers, Capital Public Radio, Outword, Russian America Media, Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento News & Review, Sacramento Observer and Univision 19.

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.

Be the first to comment on "Courting landlords with vouchers: guaranteed incentives for willingness to rent to homeless"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.