The Affordable Housing Management Program provides renovation assistance to owners of small-scale rental properties with the understanding that they will rent out these properties at a reduced rate for a length of time in proportion to the amount of assistance they receive. In terms of the physical renovation of these properties, the services offered by SAFER are identical to those of the Family Match program, and include coordination and supervision of all subcontractor work, recruitment of volunteers for manual labor, and delivery of supplies. Property owners who enroll in this program sign a contract with SAFER which legally binds them to rent their units at a rate below the market rate for a specified time period. The length of time and rate stipulated in the contract is devised to equate the total amount of money the owner has saved through free labor and any government grants with the total amount of money lost by offering the units at a reduced rate.
The AHMP addresses affordable housing issues for two different populations: small-scale property owners who do not have the initial capital to put their rental units back on the market, and low-income families who can save money toward their own home by paying rent at only a fraction of the market rate. Because rental rates have increased by as much as 100-150% in many areas of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, the low-cost rental units created by this project fill a vital need for the city’s many low-income residents. Additionally, SAFER targets renters who agree to enroll in a first-time homeowners class and also helps them to use existing resources to improve their credit with the object of eventually buying their own home. Because the low-rent housing created by AHMP allow families to save as much as $60,000 over a 5 year period, the possibility of buying a home becomes a highly realistic prospect for those living in the renovated units.
All volunteers and SAFER staff members involved in AHMP, as well as all of our organization’s other programs, are university students or recent graduates. Therefore, this affordable housing initiative is planned and carried out exclusively by young adults.