A new program in New Mexico would give financial incentives to landlords who provide housing options for youth aging out of foster care and young adults facing homelessness.
The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority joined forces with the state Children, Youth and Families Department to launch the Landlord Collaboration Program. The pilot project offers up to $2,500 in assistance to landlords in order to expand rental options for young people ages 18 through 24.
The money can be used for rental unit damages and to bring them up to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development standards. Additionally, the funding can be used towards paying the rent to recover any financial losses due to a vacancy.
Housing liaisons, who will check in with the landlords and young tenants to figure out any issues that may arise early and help resolve them, are also part of the program.
Child welfare advocates say these incentives are vitally needed for young adults who have either spent time in the juvenile justice system or are exiting New Mexico’s foster care system.
Lorilynn Violanta, co-director of NMCan, a Albuquerque-based nonprofit, said housing obstacles often arise for these young people because many lack strong family connections to lean on.
“There’s a stigma for anyone that has systems involvement,” she told Sante Fe New Mexican.
Violanta, whose organization has no direct involvement with the Landlord Collaboration Program, said she thinks offering financial incentives to landlords could benefit the youth and young adults she works with in the area. Many are dealing with compounded barriers to securing housing or housing assistance, such as not having the money for transportation to get to jobs and other economic hurdles.
“It really starts there: having landlords who are willing and able to provide a little flexibility and understanding for those who need a little more support in going through a typical housing application process,” Violanta said.
According to the Sante Fe New Mexican, the state’s child welfare agency spokesman Charlie Moore-Pabst called the program “hopefully a step in the right direction.”