Monday, June 25, 2012

Making Scattered Site Rental Work

Reposted from the "Stabilize" blog of the NeighborWorks America Stable Communities program.

Shelterforce discussed the thorny issue of managing scattered-site rentals by nonprofits in its winter 2011 issue, noting that it "has long been considered a very tough nut to crack for nonprofit housing groups." The lack of efficiencies of scale lead to higher costs for travel and time, maintenance for non-uniform household items, fewer units sharing equipment like laundry facilities, and security. One property manager estimates that management costs 25 to 30 percent more than traditional rental units.

"FOR RENT" sign in front of scattered-site rental
So why do it? The glut of single-unit homes on the market means they're available, and mission-driven nonprofits also see it as an important. By putting these homes to good use, they make an impact on local neighborhoods. As quoted in the story, “Scattered-site rentals provide nonprofits with a strong physical presence and stakeholder role within a neighborhood, enabling them to be more involved in local political lobbying and neighborhood change,” says Benji Power of Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida.

NeighborWorks America has developed the comprehensive Scattered Site Rental Toolkit: Business Planning for Development & Management to assist nonprofits that want to provide affordable housing and stabilize neighborhoods through such rentals.

Does your organization have experiences — successful or otherwise — with this type of work? What advice would you share?