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1999 Best Practices
Success Stories

Program Name: Rental Assistance Committee
Program Focus: Fair Housing
Geographic Area: Southeast/Caribbean
State: Florida
City: Fort Myers

Executive Summary
In Fort Myers, FL, HUD established the Rental Assistance Committee (RAC) to ensure that as many families as possible have access to competitively priced, safe, and sanitary rental housing opportunities in Fort Myers, FL.

The RAC, which was established in 1997, is staffed by HUD representatives and fosters collaboration among housing inspectors, real estate agents, tenants, and owners to manage federal and private-sector resources. The committee’s preliminary responsibility is to compile data on rental fees currently collected in the national subsidized and non-subsidized housing markets. This data is combined with market rates and trends in the area served, to assist the local housing authority in determining competitive rental rates for subsidized properties. This research and analysis method helps to create a working formula for appraising all rental units before a Housing Assistance Payment contract is signed with the housing authority. This practice helps ensure that the housing authority does not pay higher rents that those in the non-subsidized market.

Efficiently managing the local housing authority’s financial resources benefits the entire community, not just the affected tenants and owners. Specific benefits of this "Best Practice" are three-fold – saving money, helping to keep rents reasonable, and restoring the public’s trust in social service programs. In its first year of implementation, the program saved $752,600, enabling an additional 181 families to receive housing assistance without increasing the housing authority’s budget.

Initially, Fort Myers Community Relations Department Executive Director Harry Adams and his team received minimal support from area owners, due to the tenant-based nature of the project. Owner seminars are now conducted on a quarterly basis to explain the details and advantages of the project. In addition, tenants receiving rental assistance are required to attend a four-hour orientation detailing their responsibilities.

With these efforts and the publicity received from the print media, owners and property appraisers and AmeriCorps volunteers have joined the local HUD office, the city of Fort Myers and the Fort Myers Housing Authority to ensure the continued success of this program.

Fort Myers Housing Authority, City of Fort Myers and local HUD office.

Financing: Various funding sources.

Point of Contact: Harry Adams, Phone: (941) 337-4111, E-mail: hadams@world.att.net

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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