Los Angeles

The Resident Relief Foundation has launched a new nationwide initiative to support residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new initiative, eponymously named the Resident Relief Initiative, will pay one month of rent in emergency financial assistance to renters and help landlords who are at risk of foreclosure and bankruptcy. The foundation is partnering with Mynd Property Management, Veritas Impact Group, GSH Group, Luxer One and Domuso to raise $10 million to keep renters in their homes.

“We’ve successfully helped more than 100 residents remain in their homes over the past two years, but we realized very quickly that layoffs resulting from the COVID-19 crisis would impact hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of renters,” Tina M. Oswald, executive director of the Resident Relief Foundation, tells GlobeSt.com. “The Resident Relief Initiative was created to proactively mobilize the multifamily industry around a national fundraising objective to ensure we can help residents when eviction moratoriums are lifted and renters begin to struggle with their repayment plans.”

The foundation, which is based in Los Angeles, was originally founded to help renters respond to unexpected financial hardship. The coronavirus pandemic certainly fits the model, but on a wide scale. Generally, assistance through program is available nationwide to renters that qualify, but qualifications have been adjusted in response to the crisis. “Anyone who has received an eviction notice and meets the program criteria which includes no violations of the terms of their lease agreement is eligible, if they can provide the required documentation and demonstrate a clear path to financial recovery,” Oswald says. “In response to the current crisis, we have loosened requirements for how long they have lived in their community and the acceptable number of late payments.”

This initiative is meant to augment federal programs, like the CARES Act—which have been criticized for delays in issuing funds to renters—and provide gap resources once those programs end. “Federal stimulus programs are great and hopefully will carry renters through the crisis, but no one knows how long it will last or its true economic impact and none of those funds are tied specifically to rent obligations,” says Oswald. “Even after the worst has passed, when eviction moratoriums are lifted and federal funds have dried up, there will be residents that may be back to work or collecting unemployment but unable to meet their repayment obligations. As an industry, we want to be prepared for that eventuality so we can be there for renters who are otherwise in a good position to recover financially.”

In fact, the program will be crucial to providing assistance during the recovery period, when the emergency orders and the related protective measures are lifted. This is true for both renters and landlords, particularly mom-and-pop landlords, who own 49 million apartment units across the country. “Most owners are individual or smaller landlords for whom the fallout would be financially devastating and the Resident Relief Initiative is one way to help them avoid collection problems and even bankruptcy,” says Oswald. “Keeping responsible residents in their homes is of paramount importance for everyone. Besides preventing an increase in homelessness, the eviction process is expensive for owners of all sizes. The largest ownership groups are in a position to contribute financially, plus it’s good for their business and it’s simply the right thing to do.”

As an experienced entity in providing relief, the foundation already has a line-up of stakeholders to participate in the program. “Support for the Resident Relief Foundation comes primarily from multifamily industry stakeholders, including banks, agents, brokers, vendors, owners and operators,” says Oswald. “Mobilizing the multifamily industry not only generates needed funds, it shows we care for our communities and demonstrates to larger foundations and individual and corporate benefactors that we are unified around this important common cause.”

Ultimately, the Resident Relief Initiative will help to both prevent eviction and homelessness that may result from the coronavirus pandemic.