San Diego, California - Rorick “Rory” Luepton is looking for landlords.

No, he is not moving, nor does he need a new place to live.

Luepton is the landlord liaison with the County Health and Human Services Agency’s Housing and Community Development Services, and he is looking for landlords willing to rent to veterans and other people experiencing homelessness.

The majority are veterans who have received a Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) voucher from the Housing Authority of the County of San Diego to help pay their rent and are ready to move in, but need to find an apartment to rent. Currently, in excess of 100 homes are needed to house veterans and other people searching for a permanent place to live.

Luepton’s main objective is to increase the number of landlords willing to rent to those experiencing homelessness and to build relationships with them.

“Sometimes they have a lot of questions about why the person is in a specific program,” said Luepton, who has been a landlord liaison for more than a year.  He also works on the Bringing Families Home program, which provides services and housing options for families in the child welfare system.

According to the 2018 homeless count results, there were 8,576 people living on the streets or in shelters in the San Diego region. About 15 percent of the homeless in San Diego County served in the military. Veterans are more likely than civilians to be homeless due to a higher incidence of traumatic brain injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Incentives for Landlords

But given the low vacancy rate in San Diego County—about 3 percent—and the high rents, it’s hard to find landlords willing to rent their units to veterans and others needing housing.

To help them find homes, the County’s Housing and Community Development Services has set aside funds for a landlord incentive program.

Landlords who rent to homeless veterans participating in the VASH program may be eligible for these incentives:

  • Leasing bonus up to $500
  • Damage Reimbursement up to $5,000
  • Security Deposit and Utility Assistance

Landlords also get assistance from Luepton who works with them and their tenants to make sure everything runs smoothly.

“Some landlords,” Luepton said, “have concerns about the person being able to pay the rent and the security deposit, and about damage to their property once the tenant leaves.”

“I let them know that they’re stable tenants and that they don’t have to worry about getting their rent,” Luepton said. “I reassure them that if their property is damaged, it will be restored.”

While it’s difficult to find homes given the local lack of availability, Luepton said he and his colleagues press on.

“We have the opportunity to find housing for people who are the most vulnerable,” Luepton said. “Once we find them housing, they’ll be able to have the support and services they need to turn their lives around.”

Currently, 565 veterans are being assisted through the VASH program. Funding is made available from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Overall, the County’s VASH program has assisted almost 1,000 veterans locate a safe place to call home. Finding solutions for county residents experiencing homelessness, including veterans, is part of the County’s Live Well San Diego vision for a healthy, safe and thriving region.

Luepton said he is glad he’s giving back to the community.

“I love it. I absolutely love it,” Luepton said talking about his job. “It’s been some of the hardest work but also the most rewarding and fulfilling.”

Landlords interested in participating in the rental assistance programs should call 2-1-1 San Diego or visit the organization’s website. 2-1-1 San Diego will refer landlords to the proper jurisdiction. The service is a benefit to all the organizations in the county that need housing referrals for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.