PORTLAND, Ore. — There are mixed reviews for Multnomah County's new program that gives incentives to landlords renting vacant units to people experiencing homelessness.
The Move-In Multnomah program launched last week in an effort to ease the housing crisis in the county. Since the launch, the Joint Office of Homeless Services said 45 landlords have volunteered, offering apartments and single-family homes.
"We have a lot of really great people in our community who do want to be a part of solving homelessness," said Shannon Singleton at Joint Office of Homeless Services.
The Joint Office will match landlords with people who need housing, a process that can take up to a week, and screening requirements such as income and eviction history are eliminated.
"We’ll shortly start to see people be matched from these homeless service providers into open units that landlords have reached out to add to this program," Singleton added.
While the initiative may not large enough to house thousands of homeless people, Singleton said, "ending one person’s homelessness is a big deal and worth it."
But even though the program is off to a strong start, not all landlords are in favor of it.
"I’m not sure this one is as promising as it’s being presented," said Ron Garcia who runs Rental Housing Alliance of Oregon.
He believes a transition period is needed before a move to permanent housing.
"I’m real concerned that 180 flip from having lived in a van or a tent, going into a home without any other prep is an issue."
Another concern he had is the potential of disrupting neighbors.
"Homelessness is also rooted to behavioral problems, whether it’s drug use or mental health crises. So that’s not going to be solved by putting a roof over their head," he said.
Oregon law recently stopped landlords from evicting tenants without a cause. Garcia said the change could create problems.
"I know there’s a lot of really great people on the streets who know how to live... I just don’t know as a wide range policy if there’s enough safeguards in this to help landlords be able to manage it properly."
"I don’t think anyone is assuming any one piece of this puzzle is the solution. It’s really an ask for partnership," Singleton added.
Move-In Multnomah is getting $4 million in funding from the tri- county budget. Landlords have until June 30 to apply and get the benefits.
The program is open to those experiencing homelessness who are already working with homeless services. It's through those partnerships that they are recommended for Move-In Multnomah.
If a prospective tenant struggles with addiction or mental health issues, they must already be working with recovery programs or receiving treatment in order to qualify for permanent housing through the program.