Landlords Respond to Agencies’ Call to Action to House Homeless Families

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A few local landlords are stepping up to potentially help local agencies house their clients amidst a tumultuous housing market.

Leaders of the Catholic Charities Regional Agency, the Mahoning County Homeless Continuum of Care and the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board say they have the funding to assist families with rent, but there are few housing options available. In hopes of finding landlords willing to rent to their clients, specifically single mothers with children, the agencies came together to host an informational meeting to inform property owners of incentives available.

The agencies’ leaders are hoping to find larger homes or duplexes that can fit large families. Catholic Charities Regional Agency’s Voice of Hope Shelter is at capacity with 40 women with children, and another seven families are on the waiting list.

Duane Piccirilli, MCMHRB director, says they want to get the families out of the shelter and into a home. “I truly think that families, children especially, should be in a house,” Piccirilli says.

Robin Rutledge, a landlord and owner of Steady LLC, says he has a five-bedroom property that he is looking to fix up and rent out to a family once he has the funds. He says he already works with the Catholic Charities Regional Agency and rents to a veteran that is enrolled in a voucher program, one of the incentives available to landlords.

He says it “feels pretty good to help him out because he’s a veteran. You guys do a lot, you’ve sent me a check a couple of times to help me deal with the situation, and I’m just trying to help out.”

Jordan Voitus, another landlord, came to the meeting to see how he can help. He only has one available vacancy, but he says the agencies are doing “great work and that goes without saying. I don’t have a lot of vacancies to offer, but I want to try to make something work.”

The incentives include the Emergency Housing Voucher Program through the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority with assistance from the Homeless Continuum of Care. The authority was awarded 41 rental assistance vouchers for homeless individuals and families.

Colleen Kosta, coordinator of Homeless Continuum of Care, says the vouchers don’t have an end date and guarantee rent for landlords as long as the individual is in the program. Kosta says there is another permanent housing program available that also comes through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Individuals must be homeless to be eligible for the program. 

Landlords can also receive a one-time $750 payment for renting to an EHV individual or family. Nancy Voitus, executive director of Catholic Charities Regional Agency, says her agency offers a one-time payment that is equal to three times the asked rent for landlords willing to rent to her clients.

Timberly Robinson, director of housing and homeless services for the Help Network of Northeast Ohio, says her agency also has a voucher program. She says she wants landlords to know that those enrolled in the voucher program don’t stop receiving support once they find housing.

“A big focus of mine is making the connections with the landlords to let them know, ‘Hey, we understand the risk but we’re going to help however we can so that the client can stay here happily for the duration of the voucher,’” Robinson says.

Pictured at top left to right are: Nancy Voitus, executive director of Catholic Charities Regional Agency; Anna DeAscentis, special projects manager for the Mahoning County Board of Commissioners; Colleen Kosta, coordinator of Homeless Continuum of Care; Lee DeVita, program coordinator for MCMHRB

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.