The majority of inclusionary programs rely heavily on property owners and their management companies to ensure ongoing compliance of inclusionary rental units, but many administrators report significant challenges with this approach.*
Programs frequently expect managers of rental properties with inclusionary units to market available units, screen applicants for program eligibility, document and annually recertify tenant incomes, and take action to address noncompliance. Many cities provide ongoing training for property managers to help them understand the rules they are charged with enforcing, and most undertake some level of monitoring for ensuring managers are applying the rules appropriately and equitably. For example, some programs impose affirmative fair marketing requirements which outline steps developers must take to market to the entire community—and specifically hard-to-reach populations—including requirements to make materials available in multiple languages. However, problems are still common.
Most property management companies have no experience with affordable housing programs, and it can be challenging to rely on them to enforce potentially complex public agency rules. As a result, a growing number of programs are centralizing some of these responsibilities, often in-house. Hickey, Sturtevant, and Thaden* describe how San Mateo, California centralized waiting lists and screening due to the high turnover of property managers. Now the city manages a single applicant pool and sends pre-screened tenants to property managers to fill vacancies.
New York, New York
New York has taken a different approach by requiring private developers to contract with a city-approved, third-party Administering Agent. These independent administrators are responsible for marketing units and ensuring that tenants are program eligible. In New York’s inclusionary program, property managers typically handle annual income recertification, but the Administering Agents relieve the city from the burden of supporting and monitoring hundreds of different property management companies. Of course, the city still has to monitor the independent administrators.
Chicago’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance rules state that developers shall use good faith and affirmative efforts to attract potential purchasers or tenants from all minority communities. Developers must schedule a marketing intake meeting with City staff and submit a completed marketing plan which must be approved by City staff. The marketing plan must describe how the developer’s commercial media plan will target diverse racial and ethnic groups. Developers are also encouraged to share information with the local Alderman’s office, as well as local housing counseling and other delegate agencies, so that they may promote the availability of the affordable units to the targeted populations.