Pinellas landlord offers rent relief for tenants who volunteer at local charities

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – At Contemporary Housing Alternatives of Florida, a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing to low-income families, some renters have lost hours due to COVID-19, others have lost their employment.

For many rent payments are often overdue and are left asking what to do?

Holly Butler, the organization’s director of property management had an idea. What if residents who have overdue rent, work some of it off volunteering at local charities?

“Step number one,” said Butler. “They had to show us verifiable proof that they were affected by COVID.”

Contemporary Housing Alternatives of Florida Senior Vice President Tracy Mater (L) and Director of Property Management Holly Butler speak about the rent relief program.

Then, after working for a charity where they can get written proof of their volunteer hours, they get a $100 credit for overdue rent for every hour worked. They are volunteering for a number of local organizations including Hope Villages of America and the High Point Neighborhood Family Center.

Kirk Ray Smith is the CEO of Hope Villages of America and says having the extra volunteer help this time of year is extremely helpful.

“At this point, I think we’ve had 20 residents or so volunteer,” said Smith, who believes the renters also get a personal satisfaction out of their work. “Anytime that they can play a part in their own self-sufficiency, right? Any time that they can play a part in their own stability, they get excited and this was no different.”

Hope Villages of America is one of the charities benefiting from the added volunteers.

Smith adds, that keeping these volunteers in their homes is also a help to the entire community.

“In Pinellas County, there are only a hundred and eighty beds for homeless families,” said Smith. “And we facilitate nearly 50-percent of those. “

Butler says those tenants who are behind in rent, likely don’t have the means to pay back rent, so this was the best solution for a difficult problem.

“These were some funds that we were most likely not going to get,” said Butler. “So hey, lets try and do something for the community around us.”

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