CAPTION: A look at the breakdown of income from renters in 2019 presented by Adam Ducker, CEO of RCLCO with an office in Bethesda, Maryland, who served as keynote speaker March 8 at the Urban Land Institute’s virtual conference. (Screen shot: Urban Land Institute)

With elected officials and advocates labeling the lack of affordable housing a “crisis,” especially when the National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates more than 500,000 people nationwide are homeless.

The Urban Land Institute seeks to combat that with presentations during a two-day webinar with a singular mission: expand housing opportunities in all communities.

The institute’s “Housing Opportunity” conference began Tuesday with discussions on improving the landlord-tenant framework, climate mitigation strategies to build stable housing and assessing the racial homeownership and wealth gap.

Philip Payne, chairman of the nonprofit Lotus Campaign of Charlotte, North Carolina, said Tuesday the private sector must step up and provide housing stability because homelessness “is simply too big” for government agencies to manage on its own.

“Homelessness exists because we allow it to exist,” said Payne, who added work done by members of the institute and other advocates “have the intellectual capital and experience to get this done.”

The institute plans to release a report this month to highlight ideas to increase housing for those who are homeless, or unsheltered.

Vicki Davis, co-founder and managing partner with Urban Atlantic of Bethesda in Montgomery County, Maryland, said creating public-private partnerships to build mixed-income communities would decrease homelessness.

For instance, allows residents who may receive annual salaries of $10,000 to reside amongst in a neighborhood with those whose incomes start at $200,000 a year.

“Why? Because it provides tremendous access to middle-class opportunities to people who otherwise would not have those opportunities…and [it] can break the cycle of poverty,” she said. “To me, that’s great on an individual basis, it’s also really good for our country and allows all people to prosper.”

Duncan Gibbs, managing partner with TriStar Real Estate Investments of Atlanta, said his company created an “eviction scholarship” for tenants to receive money toward rent when they may receive a new job. He said the company raised $50,000 for the fund, which increased to $2 million when the coronavirus pandemic affected the nation two years ago.

“The moral of the story with this is we are really trying to engage tenants to keep them placed [in their home],” Gibbs said. “Every time a tenant leaves a property, the financial cost and burden on landlords is tremendous. We’ve taken a look at this from a different light.”

The institute will continue its online conference Wednesday.

@WJFjabariwill

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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