Adobe Stock

Middleburg Real Estate Partners, a D.C.-area real estate company, is housing the homeless in the District with a new program that offers jobs to those without a place to live. These individuals work at large apartment properties and receive discounted rent, reports Fast Company writer Adele Peters. After the initial program was successful, Middleburg managing partner Chris Finlay launched a nonprofit, Shelters to Shutters, to connect other property companies with candidates in other cities.

The turnover rate for entry-level employees in the industry is around 50%. For the formerly homeless people hired through Shelters to Shutters–who may feel more loyalty to the job because of their circumstances–the retention rate is more than 87%. Hiring fairs, which the organization hosts in key cities with property companies, are also helping persuade more companies to participate. “You combine hiring managers with these candidates and it really breaks down so many stigmas and barriers,” Finlay says. “All of a sudden, the things that we’ve been telling them, they’re like, oh, now I get it.”

Finlay argues that government programs focus more on chronic homelessness, and his organization is attempting to help fill a gap for those who are situationally homeless–people who, like most Americans, don’t have enough money in their savings account to cover even a $400 emergency, and who might not be able to pay rent if they have an unexpected medical bill, or who might lose their job if they can’t afford to repair their car.

The combination of cheap housing and a job, along with training for advancement, is unique. Most people hired through the program get a steep discount on rent from their employers, around 77% off, while a small percentage get free rent. “I think you have to put people in a position to become economically self-sufficient,” he says.

Read More