Sussex Community Crisis Housing has created a housing locator position to help bridge the housing gap that exists for low-income individuals and families.
Ryan Leonardo, a Philadelphia native, has taken the position, and is tasked to “recruit and retain landlords that are willing to rent to low-income residents,” Leonardo said.
“There is a housing gap,” Leonardo said. “Housing and apartments simply aren’t there. There is typically a six- to 12-month wait, occasionally as long as an 18-month wait.” The position Leonardo has taken will help free up case managers to focus on other issues. “By having one point of contact, landlords will be less burdened, and the information will be more efficient and consistent,” Leonardo said. Once willing participants have agreed to rent to low-income individuals in need of housing, they will be entered into a database that can be viewed by homeless shelters, case managers, DSHA, and the Housing Alliance Delaware.
With this new housing locator role, Leonardo will be centrally located for all housing programs to utilize. Leonardo will be responsible for finding affordable rental housing in Sussex County, contacting potential landlords, property management companies, and other rental options, creating marketing materials, developing the database, and completing housing inspections to ensure proper living standards, as well as other roles. “I’ve been looking literally everywhere,” Leonardo said. “I’m trying to get people into safe housing as soon as possible. I go through the Guide and Craigslist every week.” Leonardo will be in charge of organizing landlord recruitment seminars and informational sessions for agencies seeking the use of the database, as well as regularly following up with landlords and agencies to ensure satisfaction with the program.
With the growing number of local homeless individuals, finding homes and shelters is becoming increasingly vital. Homes such as the Crisis House only host individuals for a 30-day period, “But there is nowhere for case managers to put people after those 30 days are up,” Leonardo said. “Oftentimes, these people save up money from working while living in one of these homes, but then they have nowhere to go.”
Funding has been issued through a one-year grant provided by Sussex County Council, as well as the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and the Delaware State Housing Authority. These two organizations have formed a partnership to issue grants to selected nonprofit organizations to support stable housing for homeless individuals and families in Delaware.
For more information, visit www.scchsinc.org.