Tina Oswald, Executive Director of The Gelt Foundation
The Gelt Foundation Tina Oswald, Executive Director of The Gelt Foundation

A new form of aid may come to the rescue of renters who suddenly find they can't pay the rent.

Multifamily investment firm Gelt has announced the launch of The Gelt Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing rental assistance to qualified tenants during unexpected financial emergencies.

Tina Oswald has been named The Gelt Foundation's executive director. Oswald, who has over 25 years of legal administrative experience, has served since 2009 as vice president and director of operations for The mikeroweWORKS Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting skilled and technical education. Since joining Gelt in April 2017, she has worked to secure nonprofit status for The Gelt Foundation as well as raise awareness and funds for the group and seek out 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,” says 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.”

Unexpected financial crises can include temporary work or job interruptions, medical or family emergencies, car repairs or related issues, and natural disasters. Qualifying factors include the tenant’s needs, situation, and ability to recover from the crisis. Aid rendered ranges up to an entire month’s rent, which is paid to the property manager as a grant or no-interest loan. The Gelt Foundation aims to be timely, providing assistance before the resident is evicted.

“Once rental assistance is provided, [we] then help 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 says.

The Gelt Foundation has provided assistance so far to three families: a single mother whose brother had passed away unexpectedly, and two single fathers whose jobs were interrupted by Hurricane Harvey. “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 says.