Sharing Lives: 2019 Spring Edition

Rent Well: Self-awareness, Self-advocacy & Educational Empowerment

Affordable housing continues to be a crisis in our community. Last year, rents in Vancouver increased 1.7 percent. Vancouver’s median one-bedroom rent is currently $1,400 per month and a median two-bedroom rent is $1,650; both numbers are higher than in comparable cities nationwide.

However, rising rents are not the only barrier facing individuals and families in search of housing. For those who have experienced homelessness, they may have added barriers including low-income, substance abuse, criminal records, mental illness, foreclosure and past evictions. But there is good news and it’s called the Rent Well Program, a 15-hour tenant education program taught by certified instructors in Oregon and Washington.

The course is typically taught in three to six weeks and covers key information and skills for becoming a responsible, successful, and stable tenant. Since Share began overseeing the Rent Well program in Clark County in 2011, 1,279 people have graduated.

“One of the most powerful outcomes of the Rent Well class is something that can be experienced and not necessarily measured. The increased self-awareness, self-advocacy and educational empowerment that can be felt in the classroom is life-changing for our students and our community as a whole,” shared Jennifer Mitchell, Tenant Education Coordinator. “The Rent Well class is crucial in continuing to educate our community members, especially those with housing barriers, on their rights and responsibilities as tenants. This increased knowledge empowers people to overcome these housing barriers and continue to push for policy and law changes allowing for individuals and families to access safe and affordable housing.”

In 2018 alone, 87 people graduated. Regarding those graduation statistics, Jennifer added: “Two of the 2018 graduates who attempted the class could not initially complete it, but came back later in the year to graduate, which I believe speaks to how beneficial students view the class.”

Participants can also create a personalized Housing Portfolio tailored to their housing needs and have access to the Landlord Incentive Fund upon course graduation. This fund can be used as an extra incentive for landlords to rent to individuals. Click the link below to learn more about the Rent Well program.

Download a PDF version of the Spring 2019 Edition of ‘Sharing Lives’ to read all the stories from this quarter.