WEST LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- It was 2012 when Abraham Kohen first got into real estate, and even back then he noticed a disturbing trend.
“It's unfortunate that a lot of landlords don’t accept homeless veterans, homeless families in general,” said Kohen.
Kohen was also apprehensive at first, but now, he is offering a second-floor unit to a homeless veteran in need. What changed is that three years ago, he found out about the Homeless Incentive Program (HIP) and he took a chance on a homeless family.
“I remember going to the VA and handing them the keys and the whole family cried as I was passing on the keys, and in that moment, I knew that my calling was to make a difference in my life and other families’ lives in the Los Angeles area,” said Kohen.
Since then, he's rented out dozens of units to previously homeless individuals and families.
“What I believe is that people need a chance.”
Through the Homeless Incentive Program landlords get a handful of benefits to rent units to homeless Section 8 voucher holders; including getting paid to hold units for homeless applicants, receiving security deposits, a guaranteed rent payment, and up to $2,000 if a unit is damaged.
For Kohen that makes a difference.
“That gives me peace of mind knowing that I, at the end of the month, know I’m getting paid.”
The program exists with revenue from Los Angeles County’s Measure H, and it’s available through a handful of organizations including the Housing Authority for the City and County of Los Angeles.
The funds help to calm the fears of many landlords when it comes to renting properties to those that were previously homeless.
“It gives me more motivation to go ahead and house more veterans, homeless and anyone in the L.A. area,” said Kohen.
Over 1,100 homeless families and individuals have been housed through HIP in the City of L.A. alone.
That makes Kohen happy.
“To see the difference that I make in their lives, that gives me the peace of mind of sleeping well at night, knowing that I’m making a difference,” he said.
A HIP information session called House L.A. is held two or three times a year to incentivize landlords to join.