Landlord incentive program helps house 100 people

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Anthony Lightfoot’s living situation was recently flipped upside down.

Lightfoot, who had been living in a rented room, was forced to move after his landlord sold the house to someone else, who wanted to raise the rent to market value.

Even though Lightfoot was able to find another place to live, it is still too expensive.

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“Right now I am paying market-rate rent,” he said. “For someone that is on [Social Security Disability Insurance], it leaves me with very little to work with.”

It’s a situation that’s playing out for hundreds of Rhode Islanders, who are struggling to make ends meet amongst high inflation and housing shortages.

Eileen Hayes, president of Amos House, tells 12 News there’s currently a 1% vacancy rate in certain parts of the state, making it extremely difficult for low-income residents to find a place to live.

“We all know we could all be paycheck away from being homeless,” Hayes said.

The Amos House, a nonprofit organization that works primarily with the state’s homeless population, has partnered with the Rhode Island Office of Housing and Community Development to encourage homeowners and landlords to participate in an incentive program.

The Rhode Island Landlord Incentive program, which started under former Gov. Gina Raimondo and relaunched back in May, offers a $3,000 bonus to landlords who take in a homeless person, as well as an additional $1,000 for subsequent tenants.

The program also offers up to $3,000 in home repairs, according to Hayes.

“We are looking for landlords who have vacant units,” she said.

Hayes said Amos House has found places to live for 100 people over the past year through the program, but it hasn’t been easy.

“It has been more difficult in the last couple of months than in previous months,” Hayes said. “Essentially, it feels like we have used up all availability.”

When possible, the program will provide landlords with a years-worth of rent.

“We ask that the landlord sign a year-long lease so that we are sure that they are going to keep the tenant for a year,” she explained.

Right now, Amos House is searching for places to live for 95 families, who are currently in hotels through a program financed by the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

That program will expire on Aug. 15, which is why Hayes says time is of the essence.

“[We don’t want] those people to go out onto the street when they can no longer stay at the hotels,” she said.

Lightfoot hopes that more landlords will come forward to help those in need.

“It can make a difference and it will if everybody gets involved,” Lightfoot said.



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