When we first came up with the idea for the Landlord Participation Program, we knew it meant taking big risks on the outset - and especially for our first landlord partners. The success of this big idea hinged on early adopters being able to blaze a path for others by showing them how easy it is to say, "yes" to renting to those experiencing homelessness. Not an easy task, we'll admit. Ginkgo Residential was the first to sign on five years ago. Since then, we have used the impact we've had placing individuals and families into their units throughout Charlotte to recruit many more landlords to the table. Given this, it seemed only fitting to launch our new "Landlord Spotlight Series" with them. Josie Nasife, Director of Property Management, sat down with us to provide an insight into why they did ultimately say that, "yes," and more on who they are as a company (pictured third from left).
What's the elevator pitch for Ginkgo?
Our mission is to provide reasonably priced, high-quality housing that is energy efficient and environmentally sensitive.
What do you feel like is a common misconception about landlords/real estate investors/property managers?
A common misconception about landlords/real estate investors/property managers is that many don’t realize the full expense of operating an apartment community. From repairs and maintenance, improvements, payroll and marketing, to inflation, taxes and insurance are a root cause of rental increases. A recent study by the National Apartment Association reported that only 7 cents of every $1 is revenue for apartment owners.
What's something that surprised you about working with Lotus?
Lotus has solved a significant issue when it comes to partnerships with housing organizations. What surprised me about working with Lotus is that our partnership has created a much simpler roadmap to helping to fight homelessness. Ginkgo has been in the forefront of helping the community for years and with Lotus we have been able to achieve more with less risk, fewer roadblocks, and more robust partnerships with the various organizations.
What is the most inspiring story you have to share about the Lotus/Ginkgo partnership?
Ginkgo’s partnership with Lotus started when Lotus was just an idea. We have had the honor and pleasure of being the very first participating landlord and worked closely with Lotus to work though the processes and procedures that helped shape Lotus into what it is today. The most inspiring part of this for me is when the first Lotus sponsored resident moved in to one of our communities. It was someone who had been homeless for some time. Fast forward a couple years and through proper case management and support, that resident graduated from their specific program and continues to reside within our community and is completely self-sufficient now. Although not all stories will be success stories, there are a lot more success stories to tell just like this one. It’s inspiring to be able to say, because of our partnership we were able to make that happen!
How have you seen your sector change in Charlotte over the last several years? For good? For bad?
It has changed for the good and bad in some ways. I feel that private sector real estate has embraced community outreach to help fight homelessness by partnering with organizations like Lotus. City and County housing programs have continued to make it more difficult and complicated to participate directly in the programs due to increased inspection times and requirements, extensive paperwork, rent caps and reporting. By partnering with Lotus and the sponsoring organizations, the process has become much simpler for the residents and our associates and has allowed Ginkgo to make a more significant impact on fighting homelessness.
Why is it important for the private real estate sector to engage in issues like homelessness and affordable housing?
It’s the right thing to do. Affordable housing shortages and homelessness is a real issue and it’s going to take communities and organizations working together to make a greater impact. There are millions of apartments within the private real estate sector and with better conversations, partnerships, and programs a significant impact can be made on these issues while still protecting the investment.
What are some exciting things Ginkgo has on the horizon that you'd like others to know about?
Ginkgo continues to find ways to improve our resident experience, not only from a customer service perspective, but provides tools and resources to enrich the lives of our residents. Ginkgo is partnering with several organizations that help us accomplish this from flexible rent payment options, rent relief solutions, positive credit reporting to help our clients build credit and providing residents financial resources for budgeting and spending management.
Left to right, Irianna Ibarra, Lilly Dominguez, Josie Nasife, Diana Leis.