Twice a month, on Monday mornings, the staff of GLIDE’s Walk-in Center (WIC) set up a housing readiness workshop inside GLIDE’s Freedom Hall. Curious folk drop-in to learn from GLIDE staff about the intricacies of renting and rental assistance in the City of San Francisco.
GLIDE’s Eligibility Specialist Danielle Cato kicks off the workshop by reviewing some of the more critical components that go into submitting a successful rental application, including making sure you deliver a solid first impression. WIC staff take turns throughout the workshop covering a breadth of topics related to the often daunting and arduous process of securing housing – From navigating rental applications, to learning how to take care of an accommodation to maintain good standing as a tenant.
“We think of it as homing in on life skills,” said Danielle. “A lot of our clients have issues like keeping their homes clean, dealing with noise ordinances, falling behind on their bills, etc… We cover these things in our workshop,” she added.
The bi-weekly workshop is a pilot of GLIDE’s larger rental assistance program, and it began in March of 2022 to provide direct rental assistance to those who have been hit hardest by rising costs of living in San Francisco, coupled with the ongoing pandemic. Nearly 24,000 San Francisco households requested more than $332 million in rent and utility assistance from both state and local COVID-19 rent relief programs in the first half of 2022 alone. But when the state’s COVID-19 Rent Relief program expired this past March, many were still left in the lurch.
The workshop grew out of GLIDE’s partnership with Catholic Charities and San Francisco Chronicle’s Season of Sharing Fund back in 2019. Walk-In-Center staff would help connect GLIDE clients with rental assistance provided by these organizations, but this assistance alone was not enough to meet rising demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, when initial funding came through, the Walk-in Center staff decided to take matters into their own hands and become a direct source of rental support.
“We designed the pilot program to be ‘low barrier’ so anyone who might not be able to secure assistance from other organizations could come to GLIDE,” said WIC Manager Eunice Feathers. From March through July of this year, GLIDE’s rental assistance program has already provided $105,000 to participants. Attending the workshop is a requirement to receive any funding.
For San Francisco native Ivan Graddy, the housing readiness workshop and rental assistance was pivotal in getting back on his feet after being unemployed. “Thanks to the folks at the Walk-in Center, I was able to secure the $2,160 I needed for back rent as I transitioned between jobs,” said Graddy. “GLIDE helps people who want to work. I cannot thank the Walk-in Center enough.”