The Local Rental Owners Collaborative (LROC) recently launched in South Los Angeles to support local, independent rental owners at risk of foreclosure or losing their assets to corporate buyers, and to help prevent the displacement of tenants who are struggling to pay rent.
The pilot program, which offers qualifying owners comprehensive benefits like short-term rental relief grants combined with long-term financial consulting services, technology tools, and property management resources, was launched through a cross-sector collaboration between the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), Roy + Patricia Disney Family Foundation (RPDFF), Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD), Avail (a part of realtor.com®), and Enterprise Community Partners.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, many rental owners with smaller portfolios (two to 20 units), especially immigrant and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) owners, are having difficulties maintaining their properties, a trend that can lead to greater displacement and gentrification in highly-competitive markets like Los Angeles.
Today, nearly 31 percent of independent landlords are being forced to consider selling their rentals to make up for lost revenue, which threatens the quantity and quality of housing that is affordable to Angelenos, the majority of whom are renters from communities of color.
“The LROC program will bring much-needed relief to rental owners of small apartment buildings and their tenants in South LA. This program will address the loss of rental income since March 2020 and provide the opportunity to preserve affordable housing in our community,” said Mark Wilson, president, CEO & co-founder of CRCD. “This work supports CRCD’s efforts over a decade, to use Community Economic Development principles to impact change in the neighborhood. We are proud to partner in this collaborative effort made possible by the initial pilot funders, CZI, and philanthropic partner, RPDFF.”
Local, independent landlords own 76 percent of all unsubsidized, below market housing units in Los Angeles County. In addition to short-term rental relief, the Collaborative also offers a strong network of support services, so rental owners can use their collective purchasing power to unlock efficiencies that institutional landlords already benefit from, like innovative technology tools and financial resources, and preserve their assets for working-class families.
“Our communities are at their best, and are their most vibrant, when everyone has a safe, affordable place to call home,” said Priscilla Chan, Co-Founder of CZI. “That’s what this partnership is all about.
Through a unique combination of financial resources, coalition-building, and support services, the LROC helps stabilize and improve housing for those who need it most — particularly within Black and Brown communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and by decades of exclusionary housing policies.”
“Small rental owners are integral to many communities and often provide housing at affordable rates for residents who would otherwise
be priced out of areas like South Los Angeles,” said Shawn Escoffery, executive director of the RPDFF. “This program is the key to stabilizing the affordable housing market and ensuring that mom and pop landlords aren’t forced to sell their properties during these difficult times. We look forward to supporting the LROC and working alongside our partners on this important initiative.”
CRCD, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit dedicated to sustainable community development, is the primary administrator for the program and will manage the approval process for applicants, as well as outreach to the local community. National affordable housing nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners, which helped design the program, will oversee financial management of the LROC and work directly with CRCD on its implementation and evaluation. Avail, the LROC’s technology partner, will host the application and provide program participants with online tools to help streamline rental payments, maintenance requests from tenants, and more. The program was co-developed by CZI, a philanthropic organization that provided seed funding for the effort.
The RPDFF is also a philanthropic partner for the LROC.
“The LROC is providing exactly what our communities are telling us they need: direct relief for the BIPOC renters and small landlords in South Los Angeles who were hit hardest by the pandemic,” said Jacqueline Waggoner, president of the Solutions Division at Enterprise Community Partners. “As a collaborative, we can keep Angelenos in their homes, preserve neighborhood stability and work toward an equitable recovery from COVID-19. And with the support of generous funders like CZI and RPDFF, we can explore the possibility of expanding this pilot to communities nationwide.”
Applications to join the LROC are open for qualifying rental property owners within the 90011 zip code. For more information about the program, application process, and eligibility requirements, visit Avail.co/lroc.