Los Angeles, Calif., August 20, 2018 – Keith Wasserman and Damian Langere, the co-founders of multifamily investment firm Gelt Inc. and financial technology platform for the rental industry, Domuso are pleased to announce a strategic name change of their brainchild, one-year-old 501(c)(3) public nonprofit from The Gelt Foundation to Resident Relief Foundation (RRF). The mission of the Foundation is to prevent homelessness and unnecessary evictions by providing rental assistance to qualified tenants during an unexpected financial emergency outside of their control. Ultimately, this re-naming was driven by the importance of recognizing that the mission could be a national effort supported by the industry and others concerned about evictions that often lead to homelessness.
“We found that our original name for the Foundation was communicating the message that our family of Gelt companies was the main funding source for the organization,” said Wasserman. “Although we are active donors and fund its operations, the long-term growth and success of Resident Relief Foundation is built on the support of like-minded companies and professionals throughout the greater real estate community.”
Over the past 12 months, RRF has raised more than $90,000 and has provided 41 grants to responsible renters that would have been evicted, forced to move and some of them, out on the streets and homeless. The goal of the Foundation is to raise an additional $200,000 by year-end and provide grants to at least 100 families and individuals needing rental assistance. It has also been focused on growing its distinguished Board of Directors.
Recipients of the Foundation’s grants for rental assistance have included a diversity of individuals and families from across the nation. Their situations are all unique, some are dramatic and yet the commonality is that that they have been responsible renters with a history of timely rental payments who needed monetary assistance to prevent the long-term and damaging effects of eviction including homelessness. Some examples of financial crisis scenarios that often result in eviction include a temporary work/job interruption, a car accident, a medical or family emergency or a natural disaster.
Tina Oswald, Executive Director of Resident Relief Foundation provided a recent success story of the Foundation’s grant recipients, “We were able to help a 63-year-old Vietnam Veteran just four days from being evicted and homeless for the first time in his life. He already had a week’s deposit paid on a local motel in Valencia and a buddy coming the next day to help move his things to storage. He had been denied by several VA agencies and LAHSA because his income was too high for them to help and he had already resigned himself to his fate. After we heard of his circumstances including the illness and death of his mother and his own surgeries all of which happened in less than a year, we knew if he could get out of the financial hole, he could continue to pay his rent on time just like he had been doing for the three years he’d been living there and move forward with this life. We gave him the grant, cured his default and the eviction was canceled. Upon hearing the news, this tough Army Veteran simply broke down and sobbed, thanking us profusely over and over.”
Current studies report that 78% of full-time working Americans live paycheck to paycheck and 60% have less than $1,000 in savings which means if they have any significant change in their financial situation, they could be one paycheck away from homelessness. RRF’s program is innovative because of its timeliness of the assistance. Rather than waiting for eviction to proceed, resulting in damaging financial impact, distress for the family and requiring hard to come by intervention to address housing needs, RRF provides a prevention model by assisting the resident before the situation becomes unmanageable or irreversible. Once rental assistance is provided, RRF then helps the recipient become more prepared for future emergencies. This includes a range of financial education avenues such as a budgeting class and/or credit counseling.
RRF works with property managers and owners to identify qualified candidates. Determining factors include the tenant’s ability to get past the current financial crisis, need and situation. Depending on the circumstances, the aid can be partial to a month or two of rent which is paid directly to the property and is either a straight grant or a Pay-It-Forward grant.