FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General

What is Housing Connector?


Housing Connector is a non-profit business to business organization that connects private property owners and managers to those most in need of housing. Through a partnership-based model, we create a deeper impact in the response to ending homelessness by focusing on meeting our partners' organizational goals.




What geographic region does Housing Connector serve?


Housing Connector serves the greater Seattle region, covering Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties.




How do you receive your funding?


Housing Connector receives funding from public and private grants. Funders include the City of Seattle, King County, and the United Way.




Who are the individuals housed through Housing Connector?


The individuals and families housed through Housing Connector are our neighbors most in need of a home. Some have jobs, some are students, and others are veterans. Many of the individuals have worked their whole life and are only experiencing homelessness due to hardships such as a health emergency or loss of a job. What is consistent with each of these households is that they are working with one of our Community Partners with the goal of long-term housing for themselves and their families.




Is there a cost to participate in your program?


The program is free of charge.




What role do service providers play?


Community Partners will provide at least one year of housing stability support to the household and participate in the application and move in process to ensure residents are set up to succeed in housing. After move in, if the household is receiving lease violation, Housing Connector will coordinate with the Community Partner to provide housing stability support. This support may consist of providing resources navigation, lease review, creative problem solving, or helping a resident communicate with the Property Partner.




What is Zillow’s role with Housing Connector?


Housing Connector and Zillow have partnered to develop a platform to automate and expedite how Community Partners connect individuals with available units in the community. We provide exclusive access to our listing platform to our partners and ensure compliance with fair housing laws.




What is the relationship between Seattle Metro Chamber and Housing Connector?


Housing Connector is a new organization under the umbrella of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and is led by Shkëlqim Kelmendi, Executive Director. The organization’s strategic direction is overseen and guided by a Steering Committee consisting of seven members representing the private, non- profit, and public sectors.





Community Partners

How do I become a Community Partner?


To sign up your organization as a Community Partner, please contact Housing Connector directly at info@housingconnector.com. Housing Connector staff will send you detailed information about the partnership including our MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) and DSA (Data Sharing Agreement). Once the MOU and DSA are signed, the appropriate staff can get trained and begin accessing Housing Connector supported units.




How does Housing Connector support my organization?


Our goal is to help you get more people stably housed. We do this by providing streamlined access to available rental units with reduced screening criteria though a Zillow-hosted search platform and 2-years of eviction prevention support after move-in.




What is my obligation to Housing Connector?


Community Partners commit to providing 12-months of as-needed, light-touch housing stability support to residents that move into units supported by Housing Connector. It is required that the Community Partners enroll their clients in Housing Connector's eviction prevention program within 3-business days of move-in. The Community Partner must also respond within 2-business days if a resident needs housing stability support due to lease violations.




Who is eligible for Housing Connector properties?


Any household experiencing homelessness who is working with a Community Partner of Housing Connector is eligible to access Housing Connector properties.




How do I access units?


Once an agency becomes a Community Partner, their social service providers will have access to Housing Connector’s platform through Zillow.com, where they will be able to search for available rental units and directly connect with our properties.




Will a certain number of units be set aside for each provider?


No, units supported by Housing Connector can be found on Zillow.com and are on a first come basis.




How long does it take to get into a unit?


Housing Connector takes a market approach to identifying and filling units, therefore the approval and move-in time depends on the screening process of the property owner/manager and potential requirements of a rental subsidy.




Is there a limit to how many units I can access?


No. You can access as many units as are available.




What documentation does my client need?


Potential residents will likely need their ID/social security card, income verification, and previous rental history. For units will tax credit status, you will also need verification of assets, student documentation, or custody agreements. Many of our Property Partners are able to work with folks with sensitive documentation status, if this is the case for a household you are working with, please email us for support at leasing@housing connector.com.




Who pays move in costs?


Move-in costs are the responsibility of the household. Many service provider models have built-in funding to cover move-in costs, if this is the case, Community Partners are required to pay security deposits and other move-in costs. If a Community Partner does not have access to move-in cost funding and the household is in need, they should contact 211 to be assessed for diversion move-in cost funding. If the household is not eligible for diversion and is in need of assistance, Housing Connector has limited funding to assist with move-in costs and Community Partners can request that support using the Move-in Assistance Request Form.




What funding does Housing Connector provide my clients?


We don’t provide any direct funding to clients, we do open doors to units otherwise out of reach for many individuals experiencing homelessness through covering emergency rental assistance, damages, and potential vacancy loss for our Property Partners.




How do I create my Zillow account?


Housing Connector staff will activate your organizational email on Zillow. When you log-on for the first time to zillow.com, you will need to reset your password. If you have any issues with Zillow, please email housingconnectorfeedback@zillow.com.




What is the resident enrollment form and how do I submit it?


By completing a resident enrollment form you are signing up the household for Housing Connector's 2-years of eviction prevention assistance. You can find this enrollment form on our website at housingconnector.com/resident-enrollment-form. Without an enrollment, we will not be able to provide the household with eviction prevention support.




How do I request financial support for my client?


If your client needs financial assistance we request that Community Partners help their client navigate resources in the community as well as assist in problem solving. Our financial support is meant to be used as an emergency eviction prevention resource only. If all other resources have been exhausted in the community and resident cannot self resolve, please fill out a Service Outcome Form explaining the steps taken to help resident and details of assistance requested.




How does a mutual lease termination work?


A mutual lease termination is a negotiated agreement between a landlord and tenant that can end a lease at any time, on whatever terms are agreeable to the parties involved. This path allows landlords and residents to avoid the financial and emotional stress of going down the eviction path while saving your client from having the added barrier of an eviction on their record. Note that Housing Connector Property Partners are required to offer a Mutual Lease termination before proceeding to eviction.




How do I maximize the Housing Connector partnership?


By utilizing your partnership with Housing Connector, you will have better outcomes related to stably housing folks exiting homelessness. The more households you connect with Housing Connector units, the more clients will have access to our eviction prevention assistance and other resources. Be sure to let our team know if you need support utilizing our partnership or accessing other resources by emailing us at leasing@housingconnector.com.




How long does it take to process a request for funds?


Housing Connector requires case manager and resident take at least 10 days (when permissible) to attempt self resolution through resource navigation and creative problem solving. After day 10, a case manager may submit a service outcome form requesting funds. Normally requests are processed within 5 days of receipt and once approved payment processing will take between 10-15 days. Note that Housing Connector will communicate to the property a pledge to pay to stop any further action that may threaten the housing stability of the resident.




Who do I contact if there is an issue?


For questions/support about a potential resident in the housing search, lease-up, or move-in process, please contact leasing@housingconnector.com. For questions/support about a current resident, please contact support@housingconnector.com.




What happens if my client is not successful in the unit they moved into?


If a resolution to an issue is not possible or resolved in a timely manner, the Property Partner will first offer the household a mutual lease termination. This approach is less costly and protects the rental history of the resident by preventing an eviction. Housing Connector will work with the Community Partner to rehouse the household * as well as find a new household for the now vacant unit. If there are damages at move out above and beyond the security deposit, Property Partners can access up to $5,000 in mitigation funds to cover the cost, ensuring debt does not follow the resident. *If a housing placement is unsuccessful the household may access another Housing Connector unit provided that the Community Partner is able to provide an additional 12-months of as-needed housing stability support and that the reason for unsuccessful placement is not related to the safety and wellbeing of others.




What are the reduced screening criteria?


Our Property Partners are asked to reduce screening criteria related to income restrictions, credit restrictions, resident history (evictions), and criminal history. If the potential resident has barriers above our pre-negotiated screening criteria please email leasing@housingconnector.com for assistance.





Property Partners

How do I sign up?


To sign up, please contact Housing Connector directly at info@housingconnector.com. Housing Connector staff will send you detailed information about the partnership and the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) parameters. Once the MOU is signed, you may list your unit on the Zillow hosted, Housing Connector platform and begin receiving applications.




What needs to be done to my rental property before it is ready to rent?


A rental unit must meet local housing codes and requirements; this may change based on jurisdiction. If an applicant has a housing voucher, a unit must meet Housing Quality Standards inspections, which is the minimum set of requirements set by the Federal Government.




How will you find residents for my property?


We will list your unit directly on the Housing Connector platform where our Community Partners can access and refer clients ready to rent in the private market. All residents must be referred and supported by a Community Partner to participate with Housing Connector.




Do I have to do additional paperwork for Housing Connector residents? If so, what is entailed in working with those residents?


No additional paperwork is required. You would work with our potential residents the same as with the general public with the exception of utilizing the reduced screening criteria during the application process.




How long does it take to fill a unit?


Housing Connector takes a market approach to filling units. Property Partners can post their units to the general public, Housing Connector, or both. Depending on the demand for the unit, screening process of the property owner/manager and potential requirements of a rental subsidy, a unit can be filled as quickly as applications can be approved.




Will I have a say in who moves into my unit/property?


Yes, the resident will apply directly to the owner. You, the owner/manager, will screen potential residents with the reduced screening criteria to determine if an applicant is approved.




Who are the individuals housed through Housing Connector?


The individuals and families housed through Housing Connector are our neighbors most in need of a home. Some have jobs, some are students, and others are veterans. Many of the individuals have worked their whole life and are only experiencing homelessness due to hardships such as a health emergency or loss of a job. What is consistent with each of these households is that they are working with one of our Community Partners with the goal of long-term housing for themselves and their families.




Is there a cost to participate in your program?


No, the program is free of charge.




What services does Housing Connector provide to the Property Partner?


Housing Connector helps you lease your unit, protect your bottom line, and support you through the duration of the residency. We offer a single-point of contact for financial support, damage mitigation, and coordinating any wrap-around support to ensure that your resident is successful. If there is ever a challenge with a resident or a vacancy, we are here to help.




What screening criteria are reduced?


Our partner property owners/managers are asked to reduce screening criteria related to income restrictions, credit restrictions, resident history (evictions), and criminal history.




Is this in compliance with fair housing?


Yes. We are supported by the Office of Civil Rights and Fair Housing Center of Washington. In fact, Property Partners of Housing Connector are affirmatively furthering fair housing by removing housing barriers and expanding housing opportunities for members of protected classes, including families with children, veterans, and domestic violence survivors.




What kind of financial support will I receive?


Housing Connector provides up to $5,000 in damage mitigation costs, 3-month rent guarantee, and vacancy loss. For households with subsidies, these financial supports will be combined with the Washington State Landlord Mitigation Fund to expand your access to mitigation funds.




Does Housing Connector co-sign on the lease?


No, the lease is between the property and the resident. Housing Connector signs a separate agreement called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with all Property Partner organizations that outlines the level of support from Housing Connector.




What role do service providers play?


Community Partners will provide at least one year of housing stability support to the household and participate in the application and move in process to ensure residents are set up to succeed in housing. After move in, if the household receives a lease violation, Housing Connector will coordinate with the Community Partner to provide housing stability support. This support may consist of access to resources, lease review, creative problem solving, or helping a resident communicate with the Property Partner.




Who do I contact if I need support with a resident?


For questions/support regarding a current resident, please contact: support@housingconnector.com. For questions/support about a potential resident from our program, please contact: leasing@housingconnector.com.




How quickly will Housing Connector respond to a reported issue?


We try to respond to all inquiries within four hours but you can expect a response within one business day.




How am I protected if the resident damages the property?


Each resident will have paid a security deposit for the unit they reside in. Housing Connector is able to provide up to $5,000 in damage mitigation above and beyond the security deposit. For households with subsidies, we will provide up to $5,000 in mitigation funds after the Washington State Landlord Mitigation Fund has been accessed.




How do I access Housing Connector mitigation funds?


For Housing Connector mitigation funds, please email support@housingconnector.com.




What if the resident leaves before the lease end date?


If a resident moves out prior to the end of the lease, Housing Connector will ensure the property partner receives support to cover unpaid rent, vacancy loss or damages.




How long do you guarantee financial support for?


Our program supports the Property Partner for the initial 24-months of residency.




Do I have to list all my units with you?


Partners can choose which listings to post with Housing Connector, however listing all vacancies is easier and more effective in finding applicants.




What happens after the two years are up?


After remaining stably housed for two years, the households should be able to sustain themselves independently. Housing Connector is still able to provide general support regarding resource navigation and staff training opportunities.




What is Zillow’s role with Housing Connector?


Housing Connector and Zillow have partnered to develop a platform to streamline how Property partners list their available units and automate and expedite how Community Partners connect individuals with available units in the community. We provide exclusive access to our listing platform at no charge to our partners and ensure compliance with fair housing laws.




Do I need to pay to use Zillow?


No. Our Partners will always be able to post their vacancies for free on the Housing Connector platform.




How do I list my unit on Zillow?


For help listing you units, please email support@housingconnector.com.




How do I create my Zillow account?


Go to www.zillow.com and click on “join”. Please be sure to register your work email address which you will be using to communicate with potential residents. Once the account is created, email info@housingconnector.com to confirm the process is completed and the email you used to sign up.




How do I update a listing?


Log in to your Zillow Rental Manager account and click "Edit listing "on the property you want to edit. On the next screen, you can make any desired edits including price, beds/baths, description, photos, amenities, and more. The changes will be auto-saved, so you can exit the listing once you are done editing.




Can I rent to non-Housing Connector Applicants?


Yes. We do not ask for exclusivity, rather an opportunity for our potential residents to be considered among the general public.




Does first in time apply?


Yes, first in time still applies for residents within Seattle city limits.




How does Housing Connector provide support with lease violations?


If a resident has a lease violation, follow your company's policies. Once you have initiated your process, send an email to support@housingconnector.com outlining the nature of the lease violation. Housing Connector will then notify the resident's case worker about the issue so that they can offer appropriate support. Once the case manager has connected with the resident and a housing stability plan is in place to address the issue, Housing Connector will provide an update to the Property Partner on next steps and follow up to ensure positive outcomes.




How does a Property Partner request funds from the Washington State Landlord Mitigation Fund?


For State mitigation funds, you can access information here. If you require additional support, please contact us at support@housingconnector.com.




How does a Property Partner submit a claim to Housing Connector ?


To request risk mitigation or rent guarantee funds email support@housingconnector.com. From their Housing Connector staff will review requests on a case by case basis.




What information is required from the vendor in order for Housing Connector to process a claim?


In order for Housing Connector to process a claim we must have a current copy of the property W9 and the vendor's ACH payment information. When applicable, Property Partner must provide proof that they have already attempted accessing assistance through the WA State Landlord Mitigation Program.




How long will it take to process a financial claim?


Each case will be reviewed individually. Once the claim has been approved and payment is initiated, it will take anywhere from 10-15 days for payment to be received.




How is a mutual lease termination executed?


A mutual lease termination is a negotiated agreement between a landlord and resident that can end a lease at any time, on whatever terms are agreeable to the parties involved. This can be a fairly simple and painless process that allows landlords to avoid the financial and emotional stress of going down the eviction path. Note that Housing Connector Property Partners are required to offer a Mutual Lease termination before proceeding to eviction.




What other benefits does Housing Connector provide?


Housing Connector provides access to continued education and support. We partner with organizations such as RHAwa and WMFHA to offer training opportunities tailored to meet the needs of our Property Partners.





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