Jerry Valentine explains how Renter Mentor is transforming the search for affordable housing as a consulting service and tech platform. In a way, they streamlined the landlord-tenant relationship. While working through community partnerships, the organization is bringing accountability, clarity, and efficiency to the affordable housing market.
Speaking from personal experience, this is not Jerry Valentine’s first run with low-income housing, and he only became more knowledgeable. He actually gives a simple description of the state of the affordable housing market. Section 8 developed into the Housing Choice Voucher Program. In the program, tenants can find housing anywhere within public housing authorities’ jurisdiction as long as the landlord is willing to accept. Jerry and I both agreed that the last part is the huge “catch” of the fine print.
Low-income housing is not a simple process. Paperwork alone can create a progress hurdle. Once landlords have a glimpse of the procedures, they are more likely to back out of the process completely. Jerry also mentioned aspects like the inspection (which you only have two times to pass), bring more hurdles to the affordable housing market.
He didn’t fail to admit the public sector is not exactly up to speed on tech advances either, consequently making processes slower. Facing difficulties and learning curves can turn people away, but Renter Mentor is sure this does not need to be the reality.
“I’m not a developer by any means, but I do have an innovative mindset; because I do know innovation and technology is a big part of advancing into this decade.”
– Jerry Valentine
Similar to his housing market familiarity, Jerry is no stranger to forging his own path. He reflects on his momentum with Renter Mentor starting at Give Back Hack. Funnily, Renter Mentor did not begin as the most popular idea, but they got the three people they needed to form a team – and have gone on to be one of the successful startups launched from the Give Back Hack weekend launchpad.
They followed their Give Back Hack success by joining SEA Change. SEA Change is a 14-week accelerator supporting social enterprises in the earlier stages of their journey. Renter mentor was 1 of the 6 winners to collectively gain funding towards their venture.
Jerry reassured that everything isn’t perfect. He shared lessons the team learned along the way, such as not being established as a business in the beginning and having to rewind the process of incorporating. Fortunately, the positives outweigh the negatives overall.
Columbus is a challenging city with fast growth: more people moving in, more displacement, and increasing homelessness. He explains the situation is not at the point where a change can’t be made, but that addressing the situation now is more beneficial.
“That’s why Renter Mentor is here. It’s a disruptive solution to the problem, and trying to get ahead of things…”
– Jerry Valentine