Sep 8, 2023 - News

Landlord incentive program helped house 1,000-plus people in metro Phoenix

Illustration of a voucher with a house on it.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

An incentive program launched last year by Maricopa County and HOM Inc. has encouraged over 400 new landlords to accept housing vouchers, providing more than 1,000 previously unhoused people with access to homes or apartments.

State of play: Because of record-high rental demand landlords can be pickier about whom they rent to.

  • With a large applicant pool, voucher holders are at a disadvantage because they require property owners to complete additional paperwork and inspections.
  • Some landlords also believe the people using vouchers are more prone to property damage, eviction and police activity.

Zoom in: HOM Inc., which operates many of Arizona's voucher programs, had the money to pay unhoused people's rent. But they didn't have enough landlords willing to accept these would-be renters.

  • The company, with funding from the county, designed an incentive program to encourage more properties to accept vouchers.

How it works: The program, dubbed Threshold, was designed to counter landlord concerns and elevate voucher holders' appeal by:

  • Providing incentives and bonuses to new landlords and those who overlook previous evictions or criminal history.
  • Providing for repairs if there's damage to a unit, and compensating landlords if they have to evict a tenant.
  • Operating a 24/7 hotline for landlord support.

By the numbers: Before Threshold's launch, about 65% of metro Phoenix residents who received vouchers through HOM Inc. found a landlord willing to accept them. That's up to almost 90% now, HOM Inc. president and CEO Mike Shore tells us.

Between the lines: Over the first year, the program expanded from five cities to 16 and 74 ZIP codes to 113.

What they're saying: "We got people housed in properties they probably didn't have access to previously that were of better quality, better location, better opportunity," Shore says.

Reality check: Threshold's success has allowed HOM Inc. to spend almost all of its voucher budget. While that's a good thing, it also means it's had to stop accepting voucher referrals.

  • "It's frustrating," Shore says, to know there are apartments available for people, but no more money to pay their rent.

1 big number: Landlords who've agreed to rent to voucher-holders through Threshold have more than 1,300 units available right now.

  • In other words, if there were funding, more than 1,300 unhoused families would have ready access to housing.

Of note: Traditionally, funding for Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Re-Housing vouchers comes through the federal government. Shore says he wants to see the state Legislature allocate more dollars to these programs to get more people into housing.

What's next: Maricopa County approved another $2.5 million to continue operating Threshold through 2025.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Phoenix.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Phoenix stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Phoenix.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more