With every new day, more companies and organizations are stepping up to help cash-strapped federal workers survive into a second month without paychecks. Restaurants, museums, movie theaters and live entertainment venues are among the for-profit and non-profit venues offering everything from discounted meals to entirely free attendance at movies and shows. Given that housing is generally the largest line item of expense in Americans’ monthly budgets, it only makes sense some of the largest real estate firms in the nation have also come to the rescue of furloughed federal staff.
Among them is Dallas, Texas-based Progress Residential. The company’s more than 25,000 properties in 15 fast-growing American metros make it one of the largest suppliers of high-quality single-family rental homes in the U.S. Renters in Progress Residential’s homes who share the furlough letter they received or otherwise furnish proof of employment with an affected government agency will be eligible to work closely with the company to defer January and February monthly rent obligations.
“This is a unique nationwide situation, and we view it as an opportunity to demonstrate how deeply we appreciate the work that our civil servants and military men and women do for our country ,” Chaz Mueller, Progress Residential CEO, says. “We recognize the hardship that many of our residents may be facing due to the government shutdown and want to alleviate the anxiety those families are facing.”
Asked if the company still expects rent to be paid by a specified date, Mueller was unequivocal. “Along with the rest of the country, we are watching and waiting for our nation’s leaders to resolve the shutdown. At the same time, we continue to work with affected residents to schedule deferred payments for January and February rent.”
Metro DC Properties
The Bainbridge Companies, an owner, developer and manager of luxury rental properties in Florida and the mid-Atlantic states, has taken like steps to help federal workers. Because the organization owns and manages numerous District of Columbia-area communities, its officials recognize many residents are federal employees suffering through the furlough.
The company is waiving late fees and working individually with residents who require the assistance to implement payment plans. Regional vice president Troy Fields reported that to qualify for assistance, government shutdown-affected residents are asked to visit the leasing offices of the communities at which they live and share documentation they have received from the federal government regarding their furlough, or alternatively a recent pay stub showing a paycheck of $0.
Meantime, the federal government shutdown is leading some apartment industry experts to re-examine need for security deposits.
The shutdown has cast a disturbing light upon the grave financial circumstances faced by millions of Americans. The Federal Reserve has reported 40% of Americans cannot cover a $400 emergency, says Reichen Kuhl, cofounder and CEO of Marina Del Rey, California-based LeaseLock, which replaces security deposits with insurance.
“This is an extremely sobering fact about the state of our country,” he noted. “Affordability is a real issue for many renters and as such apartment operators should consider becoming zero-deposit properties by eliminating security deposits. While many renters can afford their monthly rent payment and other monthly fees, many find it difficult to pull together the funds necessary to make a security deposit payment upfront. This upfront expenditure is an added stress to renters and can negatively impact their ability to afford quality living.”
Replacing security deposits with monthly lease insurance enables property managers to close more leases, more quickly, helping keep occupancies high. As well, becoming a zero-deposit community eliminates the administrative burden and expense of managing a security deposit.
“It also does away with the anger and bad feelings residents frequently experience when they inevitably receive less of their security deposit back at move-out than they were expecting,” Kuhl said.
- Originally posted on Forbes