People ask me all the time why I rent my homes to the Housing Choice Voucher program (HCV) or to local nonprofits. Trust me I ask myself why sometimes as well. There are a couple of reasons why it works for me.
First let’s discuss what the voucher program and nonprofit housing is.
Housing Choice Voucher— The voucher program is through Inlivian. At one point it was called Section 8 but now it is the HCV program. I have rented to HCV families for about four years. I inherited a family when I bought a multifamily unit. I read up on it when I was making the ownership transfer and thought this isn’t a bad deal. The rent was direct deposited into my account monthly; inspections were done by their staff and the families must remain accountable and have many rules. I had a great experience with my inherited family. I had a minor issue at the end when they didn’t move out on the date they intended (they moved into new construction two blocks away) and Inlivian jumped right in to help me escalate the situation. There are strict rules and if the tenant doesn’t comply or gets evicted by the landlord, they can lose their vouchers. Unfortunately, I am having an issue with one now and will see how it is resolved. The tenant has an additional adult living in the unit that is not on the lease. This is a strict lease violation on my end and HUD rules (HUD is at the top of the pyramid when it comes to government vouchers). Vouchers are awarded based on how many people are in the household and moving others in is a big no.
Nonprofits–I have been approached by many. Once one hears you rent to HCV families or other nonprofits they start calling to see if you have more housing. I have worked with the Salvation Army, Roof Above, Meck Fuse and the VA program. Currently I have seven tenants who came to me through Roof Above. I have two different programs I am currently working with. One is 100% rent paid by Roof Above and the other is a subsidy. Each tenant has a case worker which is a liaison between me and the tenant and can help when needed. I have built relationships with a few of the tenants and they really want to do the right thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some issues as well; but for the most part the case workers are quick to jump in. These tenants have suffered homelessness and Roof Above gets them back on their feet. The Salvation Army program is similar or very low income and the VA program houses Vets
My Why–It is pretty simple. I can give you some long, sappy story about how I want to give back and give people a chance and sure that must be there to an extent, or one wouldn’t even consider it, but this isn’t my main reason. Ninety percent of the real estate I have accumulated is in lower income areas because honestly it was what I could afford as an investor. When I researched vouchers and nonprofit housing it made financial sense, all or most of the rent deposited into my account monthly by a well-funded corporation was a no brainer for me.
But is it a no brainer for all? No, it is not. It is hard work mentally, emotionally and at times physically. In this realm you are renting to tenants literally out of homelessness, the woods, abusive relationships and heavy drinking and drug lifestyles. There are going to be problems. Many of the tenants just do not know any better. It is frustrating to have to discuss trash day or how to maintain the bins several times, but it comes with the territory. It is maddening to clean a unit that has been destroyed because the parties and excessive guests wasn’t caught in time. It can be gut wrenching to see the fear the tenants have to be inside with a bed and a place of their own. I have had to fight the tears when meeting my new tenant and all they have is the bag of toiletries in their left hand. I often hear, “it is just too quiet around here.” To me quiet is heaven, but not to all who come from a chaotic environment. My son said to me the other day he feels bad and sad after meeting our newest tenant who came from one of the hotels via tent city. I explained to him they now had a nice home so he should feel proud. It is moments like that that make it worth it for us. The proud moments outweigh the frustrating ones once the tenant gets to know your expectations and what you will or will not allow. You certainly cannot be a pushover when landlording for a living.
Will I continue down this path? I think I am good for now. I am a hands-on landlord and I am very particular about how my properties are run and maintained. I am not certain I have the capacity for more and prefer to diversify my portfolio a bit. I do believe if you are a real estate investor accepting vouchers or renting to nonprofits is something to consider. The process is failry simple and the rents are in line and sometimes a bit more that average. Any home can accept vouchers if the landlord allows and meets the basic requirements (which minus a few things are standard on how a home should be rented).
I am happy to discuss this or anything else tenant/landlord, real estate investment, with you. Don’t hesitate to ask!