LOS ANGELES, CA – Keith Wasserman and Damian Langere, the co-founders of multifamily investment firm Gelt Inc. and rent financing tech platform Domuso are pleased to announce the launch of The Gelt Foundation (TGF). As a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit, TGF is dedicated to preventing homelessness by providing rental assistance to qualified tenants during an unexpected financial emergency.
Wasserman and Langere are pleased to name Tina Oswald as Executive Director of TGF. A former legal administrator with over 25 years of experience managing law firms, Oswald left legal administration in 2009 to go in-house with former client Mike Rowe of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs. As VP and Director of Operations, she oversaw the day-to-day operations of The mikeroweWORKS Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to promote skilled and technical education. Joining the Gelt family in April 2017, Oswald has worked diligently to secure nonprofit status, began initial outreach to raise awareness about the program and also fundraise for the Foundation, while simultaneously seeking out qualified grantees.
“Current studies report that 78% of full-time working Americans live paycheck to paycheck, which means if they have any significant change in their financial situation, they could be one paycheck away from homelessness,” said Oswald. “The Gelt Foundation’s prevention model is very unique. Our goal is to enable responsible tenants to stay in their homes during an unexpected financial crisis. By ‘responsible,’ we mean the tenant has a history of timely rental payments and has been a good community member adhering to the terms of their lease and the property’s rules.”
The program is innovative because of its timeliness of the assistance. Rather than waiting for eviction to proceed, resulting in damaging financial impact, distress for the family and requiring hard to come by intervention to address housing needs, TGF uses a prevention model by assisting the resident before the situation becomes unmanageable or irreversible.
Oswald added: “Once rental assistance is provided, The Gelt Foundation then helps the recipient become more prepared for future emergencies. This includes a range of financial education avenues such as a budgeting class and/or credit counseling. Ultimately, we seek to provide the appropriate financial education to address what the individual needs to succeed.”
Oswald observed that some of the most common financial crisis scenarios that result in eviction or being forced to move include a temporary work/job interruption, a car accident, a medical or family emergency or a natural disaster. TGF has been working with property managers and owners to identify qualified candidates. Determining factors include the tenant’s ability to get past the current financial crisis, need and situation. Depending on the circumstances, the aid can be partial to an entire month's rent which is paid to the property manager and is either a grant or no-interest loan.
In fact, the organization has already had its first three success stories.
TGF provided a grant to cover the November rent to a single mom of four children in Bakersfield. She had never been behind with her rent until her brother passed away unexpectedly. She ended up bearing all the costs for his burial and got behind having to choose to put food on the table for her four girls first. She was able to catch up for September and October but couldn’t cover November. Her property manager referred her to TGF, the due diligence was done and the result was a call to the family the night before Thanksgiving to give them the good news that TGF paid the November rent and the family didn’t have to move. Things have come full circle as Gelt, Inc.’s first apartment investment was in Bakersfield in 2008. Since that time, the firm has acquired in excess of $1 billion in property and Wasserman and Langere hope to grow the Foundation just as rapidly in order to make a positive impact on thousands of people’s lives in the near future.
The other individual grants were given to two young single dads in Houston who had lost their jobs temporarily due to Hurricane Harvey as both employers were out of business for a couple of months. They had gotten their jobs back, but eviction had begun. Jennifer Staciokas, Senior Vice President of Pinnacle, immediately referred the local manager to TGF.
“We were so happy to keep both of these families from being evicted and serve as the bridge to a hopeful future after their experience with the costliest tropical storm on record,” Oswald relayed.
“Service and community are at the core of Pinnacle’s values and partnering with The Gelt Foundation allows our company to help our residents in their time of need get back on their feet without adding to the stress of the situation with a change in their housing,” said Staciokas. “We look forward to a continued partnership with the Foundation across the country by getting the word out on this valuable assistance.”
TGF’s first donation of $10,000 was made by Mitch Surowitz, Area Vice President with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., and TGF has received subsequent donations from brokers and vendors as well as family, friends and employees. TGF is also set up on Amazon Smile at smile.amazon.com/ch/82-1521845
“The Gelt Foundation truly has a heart for renters. The need is there. We have already helped three deserving families and we are looking forward to making a huge positive impact on people’s lives,” said Oswald.