When I first began my real estate investing career 15 years ago, I read books about it, talked to other investors/landlords, joined the local landlord association and basically did everything I could to become an expert. However, with many facets of this business, you just have to learn by doing.
I’d heard about our local Section 8 program from a few landlords who were participating in it. Basically, the program pays a large portion of the rent for its clients, based on their ability to pay. Landlords love it because the Section 8 portion of the rent is guaranteed every month, just like clockwork. The landlord screens the applicants and then waits for someone from the program to come inspect the apartment. If there’s something to be fixed, the Section 8 people inform the landlord. After the landlord corrects the problems, the Section 8 people come back to reinspect. If the unit passes, the paperwork for the tenant gets completed and the process moves forward.
I decided to try this for myself — after all, guaranteed rent sounded good — and was sorely disappointed. I waited two weeks for the inspection. My unit had one very small repair issue. I fixed it within a day, and waited another two weeks for the reinspection. Frustrating! In the meantime, I lost the potential tenant. I could’ve had that unit rented three times during my wait on the Section 8 people. It was worth a shot, and it may run more smoothly in other cities, but I won’t be going there again.
But, I’ve found another quality organization — not a government program — that has impressed me and I’m partnering with them. Horizon House is a private non-profit that fosters independence in the homeless population of Indianapolis.
They provide basic daily needs such as showers and restrooms, food, clothing, and medical care. But they also foster independence through programs that offer job readiness training, literacy, job placement, computer training, and housing placement and assistance, which is where I come in.
Some of their clients have part-time work, but have barriers that make it difficult to obtain housing, i.e. outstanding utility bills, child support, etc. Horizon House assigns them case managers to help with find housing for them. Like Section 8, the rent will be guaranteed.
But unlike Section 8, there’s minimal red tape . . . and I’ll be helping others who need assistance. Sounds like a win/win. I’m excited.