Starting earlier this month, the city of Morgantown began offering incentives to landlords within the city limits to rent to people who are homeless.
The incentive was created to assist housing those living in the Diamond Village homeless camp, but Emily Muzzarelli, interim city manager of Morgantown, says that the program could possibly be a long-term tool to help end homelessness.
“I think that's a definite possibility,” Muzzarelli said. “For one, there’s individuals who are homeless who aren’t in the encampment along Pennsylvania and Deckers Creek.”
Some incentives for the landlords renting to those who are experiencing homelessness include a leasing bonus of $500, a $25 application expense reimbursement, $1,500 for damage claims and assistance with security deposits and case management. Those applying will be directed to contact the Bartlett House and the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness.
To qualify for these incentives, landlords must offer a 12-month lease and the property must be within the Morgantown city limits. Additionally, the property must pass an inspection, provide necessary accommodations, be registered with the city’s code enforcement and have no major violations.
According to the Bartlett House and Muzzarelli, so far no landlords have reached out to begin the application process. However, Muzzarelli said the process wasn’t one that could be done overnight.
“Even with that, some of the actual usage of this program wouldn’t go into effect until they contact either Bartlett House or the city or the coalition to show interest,” Muzzarelli said. “Then they actually need to be matched up to the new tenant."
Keri DeMasi, CEO and executive director of the Bartlett House, said that this program isn’t just about possibly subsidizing rent for those in need of affordable housing. Services will also be provided to landlords as well, if there would be any issues.
“That's, really, a very small part of what we’re actually doing in our programming. Our programming includes working closely with the landlord,” DeMasi said. “We are there to support the landlord as much as the tenant.”