Landlords in Metro recruited to help house vulnerable people, asked to drop good credit requirement

Incentives offered to landlords that participate
Whispering Oaks Apartments
Posted at 7:25 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 21:08:48-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On any given night, hundreds of people in Nashville sleep on the streets.

The city has spent thousands of dollars to get people in housing and out of encampments, and now it is asking landlords for flexibility and help too.

"We ask that credit would never be a denial for any of our clients. We understand that people have fallen on hard times and believe in second chances," said Lizzie Goddard of the Metro Homeless Impact Division.

Already more than 100 landlords have agreed to participate in the Low Barrier Housing Collective. A soft launch of the program rolled out in May. Landlords are asked to look beyond things like bad credit, past evictions, minor criminal offenses and low-income status.

Whispering Oaks Apartments off Harding Place is involved in the program. They said they are proud to be offering apartments to people who may be turned away elsewhere.

"We have had folks that once they have gotten settled in, have gotten great jobs, reunited with family — just so many pluses that help a person become a contributing member of society," said Alexis Lewis with Enfield Management that operates Whispering Oaks.

Landlords involved with the Low Barrier Housing Collective are getting rewarded for considering applications from people experiencing homelessness. Incentives include a bonus for leasing five units and $2,000 to cover rent if a lease has to be terminated.

"I think financial incentives are wonderful. Sometimes I think people are concerned about well, what if there is damage to my apartment? What if there are things like that? So there are financial incentives in place to help with some of those concerns," Lewis said.

Metro Nashville is using $500,000 in American Rescue Plan funding to pay the incentives.

"People experiencing homelessness are applying for the same units that anyone who is low income is applying for. That's why we've built the incentives to say: these are our most vulnerable. How can we make it to where they have a chance to get into those units even with some of their background?" Goddard said.