The development of a landlord-tenant education program in Arcata moved into another phase today as Chant’e Catt, along with several others, presented the culmination of research they’ve conducted over the last several months.
Catt is the off-campus housing liaison at Humboldt State University, but is also in the university’s Masters in Social Work program. The “Educated Landlord and Tenant Program” is part of her work as a master’s student, and aims to establish a gold standard for both parties by building the “understanding, awareness and skills of acceptable practices for landlords” as well as basic skills on “how to be a good renter,” according to a presentation on the program at the D Street Neighborhood Center today.
“We’re getting closer and closer to the creation of the program,” Catt said. “We have all the information and feedback we can ingest at this point and of course, it’s a program that’s always going to be ever changing.”
The various modules for the program will weave in equitable practices, indigenous perspectives, financial literacy, conflict resolution, and more. Preliminary indications for modules focus on best practices for tenants and include reciprocal education on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, including but not limited to how to care for a property, tips on building community connections, and best practices for deposits.
“The property managers that were (at the presentation) were very excited about the program,” Catt said. “The community members also had lots of positive comments.”
For now, Catt said the next step is the creation of all the modules, and the eventual implementation of the program which may come as early as this fall. Jesse Richards, who is the program coordinator assistant for the Educated Landlord and Tenant Program, said the concept of the program is, “fairly unique and new … especially for California.” He said a few states might have similar programs, but they’re “not nearly at the same breadth.”
“It’s an incredibly important step,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are super dedicated across the board to getting this done.”
Richards, a homeless student at HSU, said the program will offer resources to students who are homeless that were unavailable before, whether that be through a lack of access or awareness. Several projects to address student homelessness directly are in the works, he said. But for now, Richards emphasizes the importance of a unified, concerted effort.
“HSU isn’t going anywhere and Arcata isn’t going anywhere,” he said. “We need to work with both to strengthen the community as a whole.”
The program will have impacts in Humboldt County at a minimum, Richards said, but there’s a chance it could be replicated across the nation. Catt said she submitted the work done so far to both state and nationwide contests that showcase this type of research and hopes to one day present it on a national stage.
“It didn’t set in until I hit that enter button that this could plausibly be something that helps people nationally,” she said. “This is something that so many souls have put their hearts into and I could never have done this alone and I am so thankful for them.”
Philip Santos can be reached at 707-441-0506.