Housing Connector: Connecting landlords with vacant apartments to people who most need housing

In a tight rental market, competition is keen for every affordable unit that becomes available.  Finding an affordable unit can be a challenge for anyone, but there are additional barriers that can make that challenge even greater:  Lack of a credit history or poor credit. A prior eviction. Previous justice system involvement. Currently homeless.

Any of these challenges can leave individuals and families literally outside.

A new tool to connect individuals and families to housing

Our Housing, Homelessness and Community Development (HHCDD) division works with many partners to build new housing across the region, but new construction alone cannot meet the magnitude of our region’s current shortfall in affordable and supportive housing.

Housing Connector, a brand new organization supported by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber, gives us a new tool for individuals and families desperately seeking not just housing, but a second chance to get their lives on track. It serves as the bridge that connects private property owners and managers to those most in need of housing.

Housing Connector, who officially launched on Tuesday, has worked to identify incentives and resources for landlords, such as paying damage deposits, and developed partnerships with local service providers to assure onsite supports are available if tenants need help.

The vision for the program is that no unit should sit vacant while there are households in need of homes.

Housing Connector for blog
Celebrating the official launch of Housing Connector:  Shkelqim Kelmendi, Executive Director, Housing Connector; Marilyn Strickland, President/CEO, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber; King County Executive Dow Constantine; Tali Reiner, Vice President, Property Management Security Properties; and Phil Nored, President, HNN (Photo: Seattle Metropolitan Chamber)

A successful pilot

Prior to Tuesday’s launch, Housing Connector implemented a pilot phase of the program.

In just a few months, Housing Connector:

  • Signed MOUS with 29 property partners and 22 community partners.
  • Made available 198 units of housing.
  • Housed 127 individuals (which exceeded their goal by 59%!).
  • And, of those housed, 64% were persons of color, addressing the serious issue of disproportionality in the homeless population.

A common vision

HHCDD is contributing over $1.1 million to fund Housing Connector. Our King County Coordinated Entry for All staff are working closely with Housing Connector to identify households ready for referral, and collaborating with landlords and service providers to move those families into stable housing.

Housing Connector serves as a bridge to connect property owners to those in need of housing, along with services and supports to assist both landlords and tenants. It gives us more options to help people throughout King County who are urgently seeking not just housing, but a second chance to get their lives on track. -King County Executive Dow Constantine

Housing Connector receives funding the City of Seattle and King County while working with partners in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

King County is also moving forward with a new Master Leasing project, funded with $5 million from our Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy that will help to build access to housing for people with barriers or for people holding vouchers for housing.

Housing Connector is showing us that we can make significant progress when we all come together around a common vision and strategy.