Father Joe's thanks landlords for taking in homeless tenants

Landlords who accept the homeless as tenants often are the unsung heroes in the battle to get people out of shelters and off the street, but a recent recognition dinner attempted to change that.

Father Joe’s Villages acknowledged the contributions of several landlords at dinner late last month prepared by students in the nonprofit’s culinary arts program and held at the Joan Kroc Center downtown.

"At its root, San Diego’s homelessness crisis is a housing crisis,” Father Joe’s Villages President and CEO Jim Vargas said at the dinner, according to a news release from the nonprofit.

“In the last five years, Father Joe’s Villages has helped 5,600 people move off the streets and into permanent housing, successfully ending their homelessness,” he said. “Landlords have reached out to house the neediest amongst us, in some cases setting aside profit because they believe in hope, in dignity, and in human potential."

With vacancy rates low across the county, landlords usually have their choice of who to take in as tenants, and homeless people with poor credit and no rental history likely are low on the lists of many.

In an effort to change that, nonprofits in recent years have increased their outreach efforts to landlords, in some cases vetting tenants and offering to act as mediators if tenant-landlord issues arise later.

People recognized at the Aug. 30 dinner include Cecily Johnson, who works with Father Joe’s Villages’ team to mediate tenant issues at Trolley Court in East Village, and the Brunswick and the Pines property managers.

Matt Philbin, owner of Anthem Realty, received the Impact Award for his work in buying property specifically to house homeless and low-income individuals and families.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer also praised landlords at the event for helping house the homeless.

“Private landlords have played a crucial role in our push to find permanent places for homeless veterans and other struggling San Diegans to call home,” Faulconer said in the news release. “These are people who are using their own resources to give others a hand up. We are grateful that they continue to step up for the greater good of our community.”

The city’s “Housing our Heroes” campaign used landlord incentives to help find homes for more than 1,000 veterans last year. The campaign provided landlords with $500 for the first tenant taken in and $250 for each additional tenant.

In an effort to get more landlords involved in housing the homeless, San Diego County’s budget for fiscal year 2018/19 includes $400,000 in incentive programs for landlords.

In June, the Alpha Project held its own event to recognize landlords who had worked with them in housing homeless people.

gary.warth@sduniontribune.com

Twitter: @GaryWarthUT

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