The city of Berkeley is encouraging landlords to lease vacant housing units to people transitioning out of homelessness through an Alameda County program that helps house homeless residents.

In a Dec. 17 news release, Berkeley positioned the initiative as offering property owners the opportunity to “receive a stable rental income while supporting the health of the community.”

The program matches people in need with landlords who can set their own criteria. Support is provided for tenants after they move in to their apartment, including being allocated a case manager. Meanwhile, property owners are guaranteed on-time monthly payments; a single point of contact and 24-hour support to help with potential tenant issues; as well as possible additional financial incentives, including a $1,000 bonus for landlords new to the program.

Berkeley said the program will be particularly helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic as the city works to provide safer housing options for people who are unhoused. Alameda County hopes to identify at least 300 housing units by the end of 2020.

How it works:

  • Tenants matched for the program pay a percentage of their income, and the balance of the rent is supported with government and philanthropic funding. Payment is guaranteed by a nonprofit organization.
  • Landlords participating in this program can set criteria for the tenants to be matched with, and may require a standard rental application.
  • Studios and 1-bedrooms near transit especially needed. Apartments of any size are welcome, but the highest demand is for studios and 1-bedrooms.
  • Units with easy access to public transportation, their own bathroom, and a kitchen or kitchenette are preferred. The program is especially interested in rental units that are accessible for people with disabilities, and that are friendly to people relying on a fixed income or third-party housing assistance funds.

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