Summit County nonprofit to offer Ready to Rent classes
December 30, 2016
The Family and Intercultural Resource Center is aiming to give locals the tools they need to get a leg up in their housing search.
Starting Jan. 4, FIRC will be offering Ready to Rent classes. The four-part curriculum will help teach potential renters how to start their housing search and how to communicate with their landlord once they find a place. Classes are free and will be every Wednesday until Jan. 25 from 5:30–8:30 p.m. at FIRC's Silverthorne office. This is the third time FIRC has offered the course, and participants will receive a certificate at the end.
"Many people don't receive the proper education about how to be a good tenant and they make many assumptions that get them kicked out of their homes," said Michel Infante, the family support manager at FIRC, and instructor for the course. "We believe with education, we can help renters understand their responsibilities and rights."
Ready to Rent is a national program originally founded in 1998 in Portland, Oregon. Raina Evans, the current owner of Ready to Rent, said that the program started when city officials went to the Portland Housing Center asking them to create a curriculum for abused women who could not get out of their situation because they had various barriers that prevented them from becoming renters.
The housing center spent the next two years working with local landlords to create a program that would not only teach people how to be a good renter, but also about their rights as a tenant, and how to manage finances.
The program is now offered across the United States and in four Canadian provinces. Evans said that the program was made to be flexible so that different organizations can cater the program to their audience, as long as they continue to meet the high standards of Ready to Rent. The standards ensure that participants learn the same basics of the course across the nation.
"It can get sliced up any way the agency sees fit, which is the beauty of Ready to Rent," Evans said.
The first part of the course sets the path for the rest of the program, Evans said. Attendants have to do a full background check on themselves and then create a set of goals based around some of the things they find, such as improving their credit scores.
"They need to see everything that a landlord is going to see when a landlord does the screening check on them," Evans said.
Anita Overmyer, the development director at FIRC, said that the class is also open to landlords who are curious about the class and want to learn more about renters' rights. She added that the new Housing Works Initiative Program requires that applicants take a Ready to Rent class. Housing Works is a partnership with the Summit Combined Housing Authority to find property owners in the county who are willing to convert their home from a short-term to long-term rental to provide housing for working families.
Overmyer said that their goal for the program was to help 15 families get into housing by the end of the first year. Halfway into the program, she said they are ahead of schedule and have already found homes for 12 people.
For Tamara Drangstveit, the executive director at FIRC, the goal is that this class will convince landlords across the county to rent locally.
"Hopefully this program will reassure landlords who might otherwise lean towards renting on a short term basis, to consider longer term rentals," Drangstveit said in a release about the class.