Gov. Gina M. Raimondo today announced financial incentives for landlords who answer a call to rent to people who have housing vouchers and need a place to live.
Landlords who sign on would receive a $2,000 bonus for the first unit they rent to a homeless individual or family with a voucher, and $500 for each additional unit. They would also receive up to $2,000 per unit to support move-in renovations or repairs, in addition to being assured of rental income that is not affected by fluctuations in the income of their tenants.
“This is a real opportunity for landlords to do the right thing and help their fellow Rhode Islanders while also getting economic security during these unprecedented times,” said Governor Raimondo in a statement. “I’m optimistic that we will be able to get Rhode Islanders into safe housing through this new initiative.”
Governor Raimondo’s announcement builds on a call from housing advocates, who this week challenged landlords to pledge at least 100 rental units by July 1. The goal is to help individuals and families get out of homelessness as quickly as possible and help the State to alleviate a homeless problem that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rhode Island landlords who are interested in participating can call 211 — United Way of Rhode Island’s free, 24/7 information and help hotline.
United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI) is one of several local agencies that came together to issue the challenge to landlords. Others include the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Office of Housing and Community Development, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Department of Health, Rhode Island Housing, and the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.
Cortney Nicolato, President and CEO of UWRI, said the coronavirus pandemic has “brought to the forefront the housing crisis that has impacted far too many Rhode Islanders for far too long.”
“This is an issue that affects all of us, and we are proud to partner on an effort to provide immediate housing relief to our neighbors most severely impacted right now,” Nicolato said in a statement. “We have much work to do, but this is an important first step.”
The money for the signing bonuses and upgrades comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, from which the State is providing $500,000 out of $5 million it has devoted to housing issues. The money for the additional rental units comes from the Emergency Solutions Grants Program, administered by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the State’s own rental assistance program.