Family Promise Good Tenancy Program
As part of its Prevention Program, national Family Promise partnered with the National Association of Realtors to develop a Keys to Good Tenancy curriculum to provide vulnerable families with the knowledge and skill to be good tenants. The curriculum addresses issues as setting goals, budgeting, understanding a lease, finding and keeping affordable housing, understanding renter’s legal rights, establishing good relationships with neighbors and landlords, and requesting repairs. The Family Promise Program Committee, led by Tommy Patterson, worked on shortening the original eight-week course to a more manageable four weeks. We have now offered this four-week course twice with excellent results. In addition to the classroom instruction, different congregations have served a meal before the class and volunteers have provided childcare.
The course has a lead instructor, and then guest speakers with specialties in key areas assist in providing the knowledge and skills needed. When asked what they liked about the course, students responded:
How to budget. I was never taught this
How to handle problems that arise with neighbors and landlords
What I can do about a bad credit rating
How to approach a neighbor about a noise problem
The importance of writing a letter to a landlord directly talking about my previous eviction
The importance of keeping documents and having a paper trail
The section on assertiveness and conflict management was helpful and new to me
The importance of taking responsibility and setting a goal.
After attending this course, I realize I can make the right choices to improve my life and I am excited about my future.
Sandy Hochel, the lead instructor for the two sessions, believes the National Board of Realtors and national Family Promise did a wonderful job designing the curriculum and selecting material crucial to successful tenancy. Hochel says that people often take it for granted that everyone has certain skills and knowledge such as how to budget, read a lease, or request repairs. But this is not the case, and the course is designed to provide such knowledge and skills. The students receive a guidebook to read, attend four class sessions and do homework. Examples of homework are keeping a weekly budget diary and writing a letter to a landlord explaining why she should rent to you directly addressing any past problems.
Graduates credit the class with helping them to be better tenants. Felisha reported that she has particularly used the material on budgeting and changed the way she communicates with her landlord. Tiffany said that as a result of the class she put together a folder organizing all her financial and important papers. Having everything in one place let her see ways she could save money. Sarai noted that she has already used some of the check sheets on moving and finding an apartment.
The course is designed to empower the students to take responsibility for themselves and to address any personal obstacles that have kept them from having a stable home environment. Graduates of the course receive a certificate of completion which can be presented to landlords when applying for housing.