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New program for Arcata tenants & landlords

Educated Landlord and Tenant Program aims to educate both parties on mutually beneficial renting practices

One of the most daunting prospects of ‘adulting’ is moving into your own space. Soon Humboldt State will offer a program to make that transition easier. Students and faculty presented information on a proposed landlord-tenant certification program, tentatively called the Educated Landlord and Tenant Program, on Feb. 15, at the D Street Community Center.

The intent of ELTP is to create an equity-based program that educates both tenants and landlords on life skills, their rights and responsibilities and the best practices to follow when renting. Chant’e Catt, who is the off-campus housing director and project leader, said the idea came from a meeting she attended three years ago where students complained about the lack of tenant education programs offered by HSU. The concept stuck in her head until she began collecting input from the community with a team of students eight months ago.

“What we started hearing was that landlords were interested as well,” Catt said. “The student tenants were being treated poorly, but some landlords could say the same.”

With this knowledge, the project blossomed into a grassroots community effort to include both landlords and tenants in the discussion, and create a program that could benefit both parties equitably. The team held three town hall meetings to gather information from the community on what the structure of the class would look like, and what specific curriculum would be covered.

“We felt it was important that all voices came into the planning of this education program,” Catt said. “There’s no way people in the community can say they didn’t have input.”

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Chant’e Catt, the driving force behind ELTP, describes where she plans to take the program in the coming months. | Photo by Jett Williams

The proposed two to three hour free class session would allow landlords and tenants to learn cooperatively and earn ‘gold star certifications’ upon completion of the program. The certification would be a sign that the tenant or landlord is educated on all aspects of renting a room or apartment. The program is expected to be implemented early next semester.

One of the landlords attending the town hall meeting was Simone Wyche. Wyche is the office manager of Strombeck Properties and said she is excited to see the execution of this program.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Wyche said. “We won’t just pick tenants with the certification, but it would definitely be enticing.”

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A blend of students, landlords and interested community members gathered to hear the details behind ELTP and provide vital community feedback. | Photo by Jett Williams

“Waking up and going to the bathroom sounds simple, but for a homeless person it’s never that easy.”

Jesse Richards

Forestry major and ELTP Research Collaborator Jesse Richards’ struggles with housing motivated him to help build the program. He survived living out of the trunk of his car and sleeping in the community forest before buying a van and outfitting it into a livable space.

“Being homeless adds stress to your day, because so much of your time is spent dealing with simple tasks that become much harder when you don’t have a place to stay,” Richards said. “Waking up and going to the bathroom sounds simple, but for a homeless person it’s never that easy.”

If this program had been in place when he first came to campus, Richards said he absolutely would have utilized it.

“This program is designed partly as a buffer to help students with insecure housing, to prevent them from becoming homeless,” Richards said. “Knowing that there’s someone on your side, advocating for you sometimes is all you need to go to school and do things in your daily life.”

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