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Fair Tide Housing’s Fight Against Maine’s Homeless Issue
April 5, 2021

Fair Tide Housing’s Fight Against Maine’s Homeless Issue

by The CE Shop Team

Fair Tide Is a Wave of Support for Homeless Mainers

Fair Tide Housing is a local organization that was formed in1998 by residents who recognized the need for affordable housing across Maine. They were concerned about the growing issues of homelessness in their communities and wanted to take action. A recent study released shows that Maine has a homeless population just over 2,000 people, which is the 11th highest rate in the country. Fair Tide Housing focuses on finding permanent housing for individuals and families who are homeless.

How Fair Tide Is Helping Maine’s Homeless

Fair Tide owns and operates a five-unit home in Kittery that gives individuals or families a safe haven by providing a roof over their heads. The organization also has a case management system that works with tenants on making positive life changes. After securing housing, an assigned case manager works with the individual or family on goals such as stabilizing their mental or physical health, furthering their education to unlock more career opportunities, obtaining and maintaining employment, budgeting and financial management, and creating a healthy support system. 

More recently, the organization has been branching out into their communities to work with landlords with empty units so that these spaces can be rented to predominantly homeless tenants. Fair Tide assists both parties through the process of securing housing vouchers and subsidy applications to make the transition seamless.

Fair Tide Housing’s Fight Against Maine’s Homeless Issue

Fair Tide’s Strategic Growth Plan

This new effort, called the Landlord Engagement Initiative (LEI), will work with local landlords as a part of Fair Tide’s five-year strategic growth plan, a well-organized effort by executive director Emily Flinkstrom and others to continue solving the state’s housing crisis. In turn, the LEI aims to incentivize landlords with a variety of benefits and accommodations for their participation.

"Knowing that [access to housing] truly does set the course of somebody’s life in a direction in a positive way, it's amazing. And this is what we want the landlords to feel,” Flinkstrom said in an interview with Sea Coast Online. “It’s certainly one of those intangible benefits.”

The strategic plan started in 2018 with the goal of moving 40 households into permanent housing within five years. After a successful pilot year in which they achieved their first-year goal of moving five households into permanent housing, the nonprofit organization has now assisted a total of 25 households.

Many of these individuals and families were struggling before the pandemic, but with added difficulties from COVID-19, the housing market, including available rental units, has offered slim pickings, and prices are soaring.

"Because the market is so tight, because prices continue to increase, more and more households are paying the majority of income on their housing costs,” Flinkstrom said. “So many families [are] living so precariously on the edge… they are that much closer to falling into homelessness.”

Perks of Landlord Engagement Initiative

The benefits landlords receive through their participation in the LEI are not your typical landlord-tenant benefits garnered through most affordable housing programs. The program’s policies state that tenants are expected to pay 30% of their rent and utilities out of pocket to the landlord, and the housing voucher can cover the rest up to the amount determined by the government. Landlords additionally have access to risk mitigation funds for which they can file claims up to and over $2,000 for damages. 

Landlords who participate are also eligible to receive a one-time sign-on bonus of $500. Fair Tide stresses to partners that their case management system will assist in the stability and goal management of their tenants to help reassure landlords that payment or damage issues won’t occur. Landlords do have the ability to choose who they house in their units in an effort to best match units and tenants based on their needs. 

Flinkstrom is aware of the negative stigma associated with government housing assistance for homeless individuals. This is why the organization stresses its case management system and is firm on goal management. By empowering the individual through access to safe, stable housing and an ample support system, Fair Tide will surely turn the tide on Maine’s homelessness issue. 

If you would like to help fight the good fight, check out Fair Tide’s How to Help page where you can learn about becoming a sponsoring real estate pro through the One Warm Night program. By donating just $31 after completing a property sale, you cover the cost of providing one individual with 24 hours of care from Fair Tide. You can download the details here to learn more.

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