By Dolores Quintana
I spoke with Craig Joyce, LCSW, Senior Director of Special Programs at PATH (People Assisting The Homeless), which administers the LeaseUp Initiative, a program that seeks to match property managers and owners and developers who have empty rental units with people at risk of homelessness or who are currently unhoused. They provide a support based rental system that is online with financial incentives to solve both issues. The LeaseUp Los Angeles website states, “LeaseUp has been backed by funding from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) since February 2018 and has worked with over 600 property managers, owners, and developers across Southern California since its launch. Our goal is to engage an ever-growing number of partners to provide a fair, fast, stress-free housing solution for our neighbors in need.” I asked Joyce some questions to shed some light on how the program works and what they see the program achieving into the future.
Dolores Quintana: Could you give me some background on how the program works?
Craig Joyce: LeaseUp is a web-based and mobile-based platform that links landlords with available units to community service providers who assist people experiencing homelessness. The platform advertises available units for rent, including photos and a comprehensive description for each. The LeaseUp team works closely with both groups to successfully transition people into their homes. Landlords are offered incentives for partnering with LeaseUp, and their units are placed on our platform free of charge. Access to the site is reserved for community service providers giving case management to their program participants, all of whom have government-backed housing subsidies. The LeaseUp team acquires individual scattered-site units as well as entire buildings.
DC: How do PATH and Lease Up work together on housing?
CJ: PATH created the LeaseUp platform and facilitates the operations. As a community provider itself, PATH’s service programs also access available housing through the LeaseUp platform.
Are there any requirements or qualifications that people who need housing need to meet to become part of the program?
There are no requirements for people who need housing, as LeaseUp isn’t the program that they enroll in. LeaseUp’s “clients” are the landlords and building owners who have vacant units, and the LeaseUp staff facilitate the connection to agencies who have clients experiencing homelessness.
How do you foresee the program working in the Westside?
LeaseUp currently services all of LA County, engaging landlords in each community to partner with LeaseUp.
Do you think there will be challenges for the program on the Westside since the price of housing is generally pretty high?
There have been challenges finding landlords on the Westside to partner with because they ask for and receive rents that exceed market rate. Despite these challenges, we continue to market the LeaseUp platform to all communities so that potential partners remain knowledgeable about us and what we offer.
Is there continued support for renters after they are placed in housing?
LeaseUp reserves access to the platform (i.e. housing inventory) to community providers who are delivering case management to their program participants. Therefore, every person who moves into a unit found on LeaseUp has the support of a case manager.
What is your vision for the future of the program?
We strive to partner with many more landlords and thus acquire thousands of units annually, and we would like LeaseUp to be the primary housing location resource for community providers and their program participants.
Do you think that the problem of homelessness can be solved?
Yes, by providing enough available housing and associated supportive resources to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness.
Are there any ways that the people of LA can help or lend assistance to make the program successful?
Yes! The best way to support LeaseUp is through sharing about it… We have a partner “toolkit” that describes how to do just that, visit leaseupla.org/
If you would like to find out even more about the PATH or perhaps become involved, check out Epath.org. If you need housing assistance and don’t know where to turn, you can go to LeaseUpLA.org.