There is a shortage of housing, and now with the impacts from the pandemic -- it is more competitive than ever to find an affordable rental. If you’re looking for a place to live, or may even have a voucher, you’ll need to be ready in the event a unit becomes available on the market.
Here are five tips from LEAP Executive Director, Bart Cochran, on how to prepare and find yourself an affordable housing rental in an increasingly competitive market.
1. Get ready. Landlords will ask you to fill out an application and provide supporting documents (such as proof of income). Gather it all up and put it in a folder. Be prepared to share it at a moment's notice when the opportunity presents itself.
2. Standout (in a good way). Create a list of accomplishments that help you stand out from the crowd. Programs you have graduated from, volunteering that you do -- anything to show you are responsible and capable of being a successful renter. If given the opportunity, gather letters of recommendation. Your employer, case worker or even faith leader are always great additions.
3. Use online resources. Housingidaho.com - This is the central hub for affordable rentals in the valley. This is the main listing site managed by IHFA. Start by searching here and look for available units. There is a phone number you can call too, called the housing hotline. It is staffed by our friend Erik Kingston who is a wealth of knowledge. The housing hotline number is 855-505-4700 - Ext. 8602.
Hotpads.com - This site aggregates all the other rental listing sites together (including craigslist into one place - except housingidaho.com). This becomes a one stop shop. The search is easy because it is map based so you can really refine your search to your needs, liking, etc. Best of all you can set up alerts that will tell you real time when something gets listed in your price range, unit size, location, etc.
4. Be persistent and check back regularly. If there continue to be no vacancies, look at the various properties listed on housingidaho.com (even if they show no vacancy) and identify sites you would like to live at. Call these properties directly and ask to get on their waiting list. As for confirmation that you are in fact on the waiting list and how far down that list you are. Check back with the property manager weekly.
5. Ask questions (kindly). Are there currently any vacancies? Have I moved up the list at all? Are there any vacancies coming up that you know of? Most importantly - be super nice! The property manager is the gatekeeper to vacant units and also someone you will have to get along with if you move in. Don't hesitate to go the extra mile to make sure the PM knows you are a great person. They have a difficult job and your kindness will go a long way.
Good luck out there!
P.S. This blog post is ideal for someone preparing for or currently searching for an affordable rental that is currently housed and has at least a 30 day window of time to locate one. If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless we recommend you contact our friends at Our Path Home.Check out their site for more information in their critical community resources.