By Vicky Nguyen, Tustin, Spectrum News 1
- United to End Homelessness with Orange County United Way established the WelcomeHomeOC program in November 2019
- The program incentivizes property owners to rent to emergency housing voucher holders
- The program includes financial incentives such as double security deposits, sign-on bonuses, holding fees and other assurances for landlords who rent units in Orange County to individuals, veterans and families
- The program is a joint effort between the United to End Homelessness initiative, Orange County United Way, Public Housing Authorities and rental property owners
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Homes are what people need, but not everyone has a home to call their own. Luis Montes works for a property management company that’s taking steps to address the housing crisis.
“These are people who are struggling. They just need that little push,” said Montes, a regional manager for FDC Management, which is based in Anaheim.
FDC Management oversees apartment properties in California and Texas. The company took a leap of faith by joining Orange County United Way’s WelcomeHomeOC’s network of property owners who set aside units for unhoused people and families who were approved for emergency housing vouchers by the county.
“Getting to know them, you get to hear their stories and how this is a huge change for them and how thankful they are,” said Montes.
This work is personal for him. He and his mom moved into a small bedroom within a four-bedroom house with other families when they left Peru and immigrated to the United States when he was a child.
“It was definitely an uncomfortable feeling when you live with people that you don’t know. Sometimes you passed by them and you didn’t even talk to them,” said Montes.
The WelcomeHomeOC Program has connected more than 500 people with housing under Becks Heyhoe’s leadership. Her team has set up an ambitious goal of housing a total of 800 individuals by June 2022.
“If you don’t have a landlord incentive program like our WelcomeHomeOC program, you’re on your own to find apartments, to fill in those applications and to go through that process,” said Heyhoe, executive director of United to End Homelessness with Orange County United Way.
The County of Orange is giving the program 475 new emergency housing vouchers and is entrusting it’ll find landlords who will open up their properties and hearts.
“These new vouchers are a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the trajectory of homelessness here in Orange County,” said Heyhoe.