Local organizations pilot good tenancy program

Two local organizations are partnering to help previously homeless families have a better experience renting.

Family Promise of Lawrence and the Lawrence Board of Realtors have launched a new pilot program, “Keys to Good Tenancy,” which provides participants information about assessing housing, understanding lease obligations, budgeting expenses and other topics. The national offices for both Family Promise and the National Board of Realtors created the new program, and Lawrence was one of 12 cities nationwide selected to pilot the program.

The voluntary program is open to participants in Family Promise, which serves local families who have been homeless. Family Promise Executive Director Dana Ortiz said more than a dozen families have participated in the eight-week program, which is ongoing. Ortiz said families learn about their rights and responsibilities as tenants, but that the discussions have been the most valuable part of the program.

“The best part of the whole curriculum, the way we are teaching it, is it presents material but allows for discussion and learning in the class,” Ortiz said.

One of the Lawrence participants in the “Keys to Good Tenancy” program, Crystal, who preferred not to include her last name, said that the program so far has been helpful, teaching participants how to find quality housing and handle repair issues or other problems that may arise with landlords.

“A lot of it is learning how to be a good tenant, learning how to let your landlord know that there are problems with your home,” Crystal said. “And what to look for when you go in to rent a place.”

Lawrence Board of Realtors Executive Vice President Rob Hulse said the program is intended to help people have a better experience renting.

“If we are going to prop them up, let’s give them the tools to do it the right way,” Hulse said. “We don’t want to repeat the process to go back to homelessness.”

The eight-week “Keys to Good Tenancy” pilot program began in July and will continue another two weeks. Once it’s complete, the national organizations will use feedback from the pilot programs in preparation for rolling the program out nationwide.


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