We’re all on the same team
Posted by sebastianbrown on February 22, 2010
Yesterday morning, we had our first of hopefully many 2010 Property Manager Luncheons. After the great success of the six luncheons that were held last year, Megan, Luis and I decided to put together another series with the same basic goals in mind: 1) Emphasize the importance of healthy and positive tenant-management relations and 2) Help property managers get connected to various resource partners including county emergence service providers. The basic idea is that since its in the interest of the property manager’s bottom line not to have to evict tenants and let apartments sit unoccupied, it makes sense for them to be well-aware of where to direct struggling residents to receive help that might keep them in their home.
While the group was smaller than at last year’s luncheons, the property managers that did show up had a great energy and seemed super eager to meet up to talk about issues that they as well as their residents have been facing during the crisis. After Megan gave a concise overview of the goals and successes of the Neighbors Campaign, the property managers had the opportunity to talk about what they believe to be the most pressing concerns facing their tenants. As has been the conclusion from our 3200 door knocks, they too agreed that unemployment is by far the greatest challenge for residents.
In addition, they expressed how difficult it is to be aware of the real needs of their tenants while also having to be conscious that running the property is a business and that in order for it to survive tenants must pay their rent. Both Doug from Falkland Chase and Larry from the Manor said it gets annoying always being seen as heartless money grubbers who are only concerned with their bottom line. And beyond hurting their feelings, tenants’ general distrust and even fear of property managers often ends up making it more difficult for the managers to try to problem solve and figure out a living situation that works for the tenant.
The group agreed that one great way to bridge the gap was to have greater exposure to their residents so they can begin to strip away their bad guy image. Unfortunately, those spaces rarely exist. A couple of the property managers including Larry as well as Antoinette from Park Montgomery told about how great it was to host a Neighbors Exchange at their apartments to have the opportunity to come face to face with their residents as well as direct them toward available county and community resources.
But in the end, the conversation returned to the fact that people are really struggling right now and, sadly, their tenants’ stories are constantly revealing that social services are not being delivered as effectively or equitably as they could be. Ellie from Woodleaf said one tenant came back to her from an HHS appointment having been told she just needed to get a 3rd job and not apply for services. Melissa from Flower Branch spoke from personal experiences as a single working mother of being flat out rejected to receive help without being given any other options.
Fortunately, this is exactly what the Campaign is trying to change: to not only help residents navigate the complicated social service system to be able to receive what they rightly deserve, but also to know of the human resources within their own communities that will provide a more sustainable safety net in the long term.
Anyway, can’t wait to see what comes out of the next luncheon scheduled for mid-March!