Mission Allies: Landlord Engagement
In the fight to end Veteran homelessness in Minnesota, MACV has a valuable ally in landlord partners. Access to housing for Veterans with high barriers, such as justice involvement or previous evictions, has created the need for innovative approaches such as MACV’s Landlord Engagement program.
Landlords willing to give a second chance to Minnesota’s hardest to house Veterans are critically important stakeholders in this effort. At a statewide Landlord Summit in 2019, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz challenged government, non-profit, and private businesses to work together in pursuit of becoming the fourth state in the country to effectively end Veteran homelessness.
Incentives and risk mitigation programs were created for landlords to offer practical support for the governor’s challenge. Many landlords opened their portfolios and began to work with MACV and other support organizations to provide pathways for securing long-term housing to Veterans.
“These people have put their life on the line and done other things we can’t really understand – you never know what somebody’s been going through,” notes Dr. Bill Davison, property owner and MACV landlord partner. “So, if these Vets are making the steps to try to improve themselves and their situation, it’s good to help where you can.”
Typically, when a Veteran comes to MACV for help with housing, they are connected with a housing case manager. Depending on the individual’s circumstances, they receive help moving into mainstream housing rentals or a form of supportive housing. For clients unable to meet lease requirements due to poor rental history or legal barriers, MACV’s Landlord Engagement program provides an additional layer of service and support.
What makes MACV’s program different from traditional housing case management is the level of care and relationship built and offered by our staff. Colleen Salinas, MACV’s Landlord Engagement Program Manager, interfaces with landlords to establish a productive working relationship.
Colleen is in the unique position of having two clients – the Veteran and their landlord. Because Vets in this program are the hardest to house, one goal for this program is to ensure that a good landlord partnership survives a difficult tenant experience.
“Before becoming a tenant of mine, Veterans coming from MACV have had trouble securing housing because of what happened in their past,” said Bill. “Colleen sits down with me and discusses their struggles and individual needs. Together, we take the next step and see what I’ve got that fits the need.”
For partners like Bill, the process was as easy as starting with just one Veteran. After the Governor’s Summit in 2019, he contacted MACV and offered a unit. Colleen interfaced with his property management company and the rest is history. Over time the partnership grew, and six more Veterans have lived in Bill’s properties since that first tenant three years ago.
Many of these partnerships continue today, and MACV is looking for landlord partners to bridge the housing resource gap for Veterans in need.
“If your portfolio can support it, I would say pick a unit and just do it,” Bill advises. “Contact MACV and go from there.”