A Compassionate Approach to Property Management

“I think we (ShelterCare) get to address tenants with a level of compassion you won’t fi nd elsewhere,” says Amanda, ShelterCare’s Property Manager. “I’m not just evicting people immediately. In a traditional setting, if you’re a week past your rent, they’re starting to file eviction on you. What I like about ShelterCare is that we’re able to give tenants a little more time to figure it out…the support I have from the staff means we get to do a lot of skill building stuff that gets people through really tight spots,” explains Amanda.

ShelterCare’s Property Management program, run by Amanda, responds to tenant and neighborhood complaints, working to resolve issues swiftly by communicating with support staff to intervene. Staff assist the tenant in making efforts to modify the behaviors that pose a risk to their housing. Amanda works to identify when a tenancy is not a good match for the property/community and begins to search for alternative housing ahead of any eviction date. She also conducts regularly scheduled home inspections to ensure lease compliance and to help our program participants remain housed.

A big part of the process is the partnership between Amanda and our case managers, she explains, “every document I send to a program participant, their case manager sees it so they can support them through whatever it is. It might be a notice that feels scary because they might think their housing is being threatened.”

It is Amanda’s goal to help our program participants feel as stable in their housing as possible. One strategy is to mitigate the panic that can come with serving a notice to a tenant, “I’ve literally had people tell me, “I got your notice and I’m packing to move out,” and I’m like, “No, I’m just letting you know you can’t store your barbeque on the porch, you don’t have to move out!” That zero to 100 panic is what we try to backpedal. I want people to take the notices seriously, but I want staff to support them so they are able to make good choices and not panic because that spirals really fast.”

It is common for those that Amanda works with to feel like their housing is not permanent due to trauma. She explains how she continuously works to encourage and support them through these feelings, “they think it’s going to be gone tomorrow and they’ve gotten used to sleeping outside, so they say, “I’m not setting my bed up, I’m not turning my heat on, I’m not unpacking my bags. I’m sleeping on the floor.” I have to tell them, “you’ve been here a year!” It doesn’t matter how long, they are worried it will get taken away from them twice.”

Amanda comes from a long background of property management, “I did property management for about 15 years in the private industry,” she says, “It was never as rewarding…it never felt like something I wanted to make a career out of.” She was looking for a career change that would make a difference, “I wanted to work with unhoused people, I didn’t want to be a Property Manager anymore,” she explained, “I was getting to the point, while looking for jobs, where I thought I had to be a Property Manager since it’s in my skill set. Then this was the first one I applied for. I just wondered, “How did this happen?” I love it. I’ve been here ever since.”

Amanda has positively affected many ShelterCare program participants, such as John* in our Birch program. Birch offers transitional shelter and case management to divert people with serious mental health needs from jails and psychiatric hospitals. John* explained how Amanda treats tenants with compassion, “Amanda is a real comfortable person to rent from and to talk to. She is approachable. She shines with consideration.”

Amanda says being ShelterCare’s Property Manager isn’t always easy, but is worth it, “It’s a little bit of being the bad cop. Property Managers are never going to be anyone’s favorite, but the way I’m able to do it here feels so much better.” It’s the successes that keep her going each day, “I’ve been here three years now, so I’ve seen people who came into these programs so broken and so hopeless, thinking they can’t do it, and maybe they didn’t do it the first time, maybe they’ve moved three times, but now it’s sticking and they’re housed and they’re proud. I come here everyday to do that.”

Amanda discussed how each person she works with has their own individual story and a big part of her job is to advocate on their behalf, “All of my participants are not criminals…I am breaking down those stereotypes every single day…nobody’s story is the same.”

She explained a couple of the biggest misconceptions about those she works with, “There are certainly people who, through homelessness, have gotten criminal charges, either through actually being homeless, like trespassing, or just in their time surviving on the streets. Maybe their criminal charges made them homeless. That exists, but everyone out there is not actively engaging in crime and they don’t all abuse drugs and, if they are struggling with addiction, that doesn’t make them bad people, or even bad tenants.”

ShelterCare’s Property Management program provides the support that helps over 200 people remain stably housed; approximately 85-90% remain housed after the first year. Your donation supports the work Amanda does to help our program participants maintain the independence and stability that comes with being a renter. Will you support ShelterCare by making a donation today?

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