McLean County social service leaders say they aren’t yet seeing the impact of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic eviction moratorium – but they’ve been preparing.
During a McLean County League of Women Voters forum about homelessness Tuesday night, Matt Burgess, chief executive officer of Home Sweet Home Ministries (HSHM), said he’s already been in talks with a property management company with roughly 1,000 apartments about working on master leases that would include a rent guarantee from HSHM.
Typically the programs provide money for security deposits, and first and last month rents, but Burgess said his organization has been paying up to six months’ rent to support people during the pandemic. A new master lease option is another way of sharing risk with landlords who he admits are not anxious right now to gamble on high-risk tenants who have a bad rental payment history or other factors, such as being a registered sex offender or newly released from prison.
“We’re exploring that (master leases) out of necessity,” Burgess said.
He said the current housing market, with high demand for apartments from new arrivals working at Rivian and soon-to-be new hires at the Ferrero candy plant, there’s no incentive to take on a renter with a questionable rental history. Sharing the risk is the only way to get people out of shelters and into reliable housing, according to Burgess.
“So, what I’m hoping to do is maybe I’ll negotiate with a property manager and say, ‘Look, I want to get four people through our Rapid Rehousing program into your apartments at all times. I’m going to offer a guarantee by being the actual entity leasing two of those units and I want you to roll the dice and let us use two other of your units on an experimental basis, giving people who may not otherwise look attractive an opportunity,’” Burgess said.