YCAP Landlord Lunch

YCAP Introduces Homeless to New Landlords

— Mandy Gawf helps homeless people find stable housing through the Yamhill Community Action Partnership.

She admits it can be a challenge, as homeless people often suffer from mental and emotional problems, not to mention assorted addictions, that contribute to their situation. However, she wants landlords to know the homeless people she works with have one important thing going for them that other prospective tenants lack — caseworkers.

There are professionals deeply invested in helping the homeless find and secure mainstream housing, Gawf said. They stand ready to help when the rent is late or the tenant is having behavioral problems.

YCAP also offers a helpline for landlords when problems are urgent.

“Our clients are good tenants,” said Gawf, who serves as YCAP’s client services coordinator. “Many of them have found jobs and moved off the housing program entirely.”

YCAP will be hosting a luncheon for landlords and property managers from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at its main office, 1317 N.E. Dustin Court in McMinnville. The event will feature an overview of YCAP services and comments from both participating landlords and clients.

Going through YCAP, Gawf said, landlords can find just the right tenants — and vice versa. YCAP focuses particular attention on veterans through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families, she noted.

The veterans program recently finished its first year. It is funded through grants from the Veterans Administration that come to YCAP through the Community Action Partnership of Oregon.

Steven Stone, a case manager who heads the veterans program, said YCAP has managed to secure housing for 10 veterans during the past 12 months. Along the way, it has prevented at least two veterans from becoming homeless.

All veterans are eligible if they were honorably discharged, Stone said. They must be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They must also be willing to work on a solution to the problems that led to their situation and meet low-income eligibility guidelines, he said.

Once those criteria are met, said Stone, emergency help is available for such items as rent, utilities, security deposits and moving expenses.

“The first priority is getting them housing,” he said. “Then we can work on the other issues.”

YCAP locates homeless veterans from referrals from other agencies. YCAP members also go direct to the streets to find clients. Some veterans are connected with shelter through the Yamhill County Housing Authority, while others deal with private landlords. One of the few common denominators is that there are few common factors.

The reason veterans, and people in general, become homeless are as varied as the individuals themselves, Stone said. Although mental illness and addiction are the usual causes, he said many homeless people have fallen through the cracks of the economic recovery.

“Economics are the biggest factor,” Stone said. “Once they get a little help, it can be a very quick turnaround before they are self-sufficient again.”

By Tom Henderson • News-Register Staff Writer • April 11, 2016