Do You Have “Heart?”

I’m not just financially invested in my work.  I’m emotionally invested as well . . .

Many of my tenants are low income people who are struggling to make ends meet.  They work minimum wage jobs, take the bus to work, and have faced hardships of one kind or another throughout their lives.  Some of them have had run-ins with the law and/or prior evections.   Their poor choices make them poor candidates when they search for a clean, well-maintained rental property.  Many landlords won’t rent to them.

I will.   But I don’t go into it blindly.  Everyone who rents from me fills out an application and provides me with phone numbers for their current work supervisors and landlords, and a couple names and numbers for personal references.  I do a thorough job of checking all of these out, if I’m impressed with the applicant on the first meeting.  I never consider renting to someone that doesn’t “present” well, or who doesn’t make enough income (i.e. three times the monthly rent).

I do have heart, but I must say there can be a downside.  That part of me resulted in my losing thousands of dollars early in this career . . . when tenants got behind in rent payments, I allowed them to stay, nonpaying, way too long.  I had a great lease, stating that eviction would be filed if the rent was more than five days late.  But I didn’t adhere to the lease!  So, why have a lease if you’re not going to follow it?

I toughened up, and when people get behind now, I either file eviction immediately or, in some cases, have them sign a written agreement (plan) for how the rent will be caught up.

I’ve made bad choices in my life and so have you.  Giving people a second chance at making a good home for themselves makes me feel good about what I’m doing for them and for the community as a whole.  Part of having heart is treating people with fairness and respect.  If they screw up during their tenancy with me, they’re out. 

I’m currently working with Horizon House, a local non-profit organization that supports the homeless population in Indianapolis.  It’s an incredible place, serving about 1500  people every day.  They provide food, showers, legal services, job readiness training, literacy programs, counseling, various support groups, transportation, probation services and — yes — housing placement and assistance.

Many of these people have part- or even full-time work, but they have many barriers that prevent them from obtaining housing . . . outstanding bills with the utilitiy companies, child support in arrears, legal fees and fines, etc.  Horizon House helps with housing payments while the tenant pays down these outstanding bills.  I just found out about the existence of this fine organization and am spreading the word to other local landlords.  I look forward to being part of their journey of empowering the homeless in Indianapolis.

I haven’t had an easy road, myself . . . I think my own hardships have prepared me for this career I love.  Through my work, I’m making a difference in the lives of my tenants, the neighborhood and the city as well. 

Onward and upward!    🙂

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