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City of Boise Unveils HELP for Tenants, Encouraging More Rental Housing for Homeless

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City of Boise officials say the rental property market has rarely been tighter,  currently hovering between 1 percent and 3 percent, according to city sources.

"That's incredibly tight," said Diana Lachiondo, director of Community Partnerships at the city of Boise.

On Tuesday, May 12, Lachiondo stood before a full house at the first of four public focus group meetings on housing and homelessness in Boise. After detailing a steady stream of statistics on the men, women and children who are without a home, Lachiondo unveiled a new city program that will be contracted to Boise-based El-Ada Community Action Partnership to help manage.

"It's called HELP—that's Housing Education and Leasing Partnership," said Lachiondo. "I can tell you that this is going to happen. The program begins Monday, June 1."

She said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and a handful of other city officials recently convened a private meeting of landlords and property managers from across the city.

"We asked them, 'What's the deal here?'" said Lachiondo, referring to some landlords' reluctance to rent an apartment or house to an individual or family that has fallen into homelessness. Those landlords pointed to a laundry list of challenges facing a potential renter, including employment or credit history. That's why the new HELP program will focus on what it calls a "second-chance renter rehabilitation program."

"But the most important piece of this is the creation of a Housing Provider Liaison, giving the landlords someone to call when things might be challenging," said Lachiondo. "We're planning to serve 140 adults [or approximately 70 households] in the first 12 months of the program."

Landlords and property managers interested in participating in the HELP program are encouraged to contact El-Ada, said Lachiono.