Rose Scott of WABE 90.1 Atlanta’s Closer Look With Rose Scott recently interviewed Open Doors Executive Director Matt Hurd regarding housing affordability in Atlanta and the launch of the RentBridge program, which provides a safety net for people who have recently been placed into affordable housing through Open Doors and their partners.
By partnering with more than 70 property management companies that have affordable units for rent, Open Doors has placed over 7,300 individuals and families exiting homelessness into affordable housing, including approximately 1,000 veterans. Open Doors uses technology to inform case managers at nonprofit organizations of price points and subsidy acceptance policies at more than 270 multifamily communities, expediting the rental process. The qualified families and individuals typically have the financial backing of three to six months of subsidies and strong case managers from Open Doors’ nonprofit partners, which makes them attractive to property managers.
In response to increased need for help during the COVID-19 pandemic, Open Doors created RentBridge to provide a safety net that ensures these families do not return to homelessness. It is expected that between 20% and 30% of households living in rental communities will struggle with paying rent. Many of the households placed through Open Doors do not have the ability to work from home and therefore have been furloughed or laid off. “We want to make sure that all of those families that we’ve helped and individuals that we’ve helped don’t return to homelessness because of the COVID crisis,” said Hurd
Open Doors has also partnered with the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Apartment Association, the Atlanta Housing Authority and nonprofit Partners for Home in finding up to 300 rental units in the metro Atlanta area for individuals and families being temporarily sheltered in hotels during the COVID-19 crisis. “You can’t shelter in place if you don’t have a place,” said Hurd.
The public community, nonprofits and the private business community have come together to create solutions for those who desperately need affordable housing in Atlanta. According to Hurd, who consults nationally on replicating the Open Doors program, the key factor is collaborating to make sure the people who are most in need have access to the available affordable units.
You can listen to the full interview here.