The Haven offers a range of optional programs and educational opportunities for people living in our adult and family shelters and those we work with in the community through service coordination. Program participation varies according to each person’s needs, goals, background, schedule, and interests. One of our programs, Rental 101, is so relevant for the population we serve that it is mandatory for all guests staying in our shelters.
The most recent Rental 101 class, facilitated by Haven service coordinator Meghan Paulette, was held at the Haven the evening of September 27th. Sixteen current shelter guests participated in the two-hour session.
What’s covered in Rental 101? More than you might think—and the discussions are wide-ranging. Meghan encourages attendees who are willing to share their stories. Some participants have never rented their own apartment or lived independently, while others may be experienced tenants or have served as landlords themselves. Often, common themes emerge that lead to in-depth discussions.
During the first hour of the class, a representative from Citizen’s Bank leads the group in an activity about budgeting basics. Participants brainstorm about their own spending, observe patterns, and learn methods for tracking and managing expenses. Next, there is an open question and answer session. The questions in the latest class centered around credit. What damages your credit score? How you can repair poor credit? What myths exist about credit?
In the second half of the class, based on her experience as a service coordinator, Meghan engaged the group in an activity about identifying barriers to housing—poor credit history, issues related school districts, lack of landlord references, or a criminal record—and ways to overcome those challenges. She then led an interactive discussion on:
- Understanding a lease
- What should be included in a lease
- Tenant and landlord law
- The responsibilities and rights of a tenant
- Where to go for help
“I am a firm believer that knowledge is power,” says Meghan. “This program provides a space for participants to learn from each other and to expand on their own lived experience of how to maintain housing while living in poverty.”