Real Estate Incentive Program

Earn up to $2,000 per signed lease and help end homelessness in Austin/Travis County

As of today, there are 500+ households in Austin and Travis County who’ve been approved for housing relief but are still living on the street. These individuals and families could move into a place now and pay rent now, but can’t find a place. So here’s the deal:

You find an apartment. We find a tenant. You walk away with up to $2,000.


Close up of happy realtor woman giving you keys from new apartment

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  • About the Program

    The Real Estate Incentive Program is your opportunity to feed two birds with one scone (as we social service-types might say): Make up to $2,000 and help someone move into a safe, stable place to live.

    ECHO is leveraging new funding streams to house people quickly in existing units in the community. These are flexible dollars we can use in a variety of ways to bring new units into our portfolio. Your incentive will be paid once a lease is successfully executed between the property and the new tenant. Incentives are based on a sliding scale, depending on the need the unit meets in our system (between $500 and $1,500 for the first unit); for each additional unit you bring to the system, your incentive increases $100 (up to six, equaling up to $2,000 for the sixth and every successive unit).

    In addition to your incentive, there are incentives for the property to rent to tenants we refer (see About the Tenants below).

    This is central to our community’s strategy for ending homelessness as we anxiously await the completion of new housing developments specifically for people exiting homelessness (see Broader Community Vision below).

  • How it Works

    1.  You find a property owner with a unit to rent to an individual or family currently experiencing homelessness
    2.  You notify ECHO’s Community Housing Team
    3.  We confirm the details and screening criteria with the property
    4.  We connect the property with an eligible tenant from a central database (see About the Tenants below)
    5.  The tenant signs a lease with the property and moves in, ending their episode of homelessness
    6.  We write you a check
  • Why This Program?

    We don’t have to tell you how difficult it is to navigate Austin’s housing market right now. Case managers are working with unhoused people every day to try to find places that will take guaranteed rental subsidies – as well as double deposits and other financial incentives – and time and again they’re turned away.

    Every day that ends without a lease is another night an unhoused person or family spends outside. There are more than 500 households in that exact position – ready to move into a place and start paying rent today, if only they could find one.

    We believe your unique relationships with properties across our community can unlock new avenues to connect thousands of our neighbors to new places to live.

    A stable place to live is the foundation we all need to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. And people leading healthy, fulfilling lives build thriving, beautiful communities. Right now, we have an unprecedented chance to provide that stable foundation to thousands of people, all ready to start building their futures.

  • About the Tenants

    When you connect us with a property, we refer to our community’s centralized database of people looking for housing. This database, the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), is created through our Coordinated Entry process, the way we assess people’s needs and connect them with organizations who can meet those needs.

    The folks who we’ll be referring will already be connected to agencies that provide case management, rental subsidies, and other individualized supportive services someone might need to stay in their new place long-term.

    Every referral includes:

    • Rental subsidy paid directly to property by program
    • Individual case management and wraparound supportive services
    • Security deposit equal to two times rent

Broader Community Vision

  • Why market-rate units?

    Currently, 90-95% of the units that are available to providers in the Homelessness Response System are private market rental units (scattered-site), as opposed to housing developments specifically dedicated to people ending their homelessness (site-based). This means any dramatic changes in the housing market, such as rising rents and occupancy rates, can lead to dramatic changes in our ability to connect people with places to live.

    There are nearly a thousand housing units in the pipeline dedicated to folks ending their homelessness in the next few years. While we should celebrate that fact, we can’t overlook that a few years is far too long for folks who will sleep outside again tonight. We need to be able to do both – build for the future while finding places for people to live today.

    In the long term, Austin and Travis County’s rehousing system will include both site-based and scattered-site housing at larger scales to accommodate varying wants and needs from folks who are moving through the Homelessness Response System.

  • Where this Fits in the System

    The graphic below provides an overall picture of how the Homelessness Response System flows. There are many organizations, government agencies, and individuals who play roles along this continuum in helping people connect to resources. Our community needs a strong supply of market-rate units to fix and prevent bottlenecks that stop people from finding places to live.

    Flow chart showing box labeled "targeted prevention" connected to box labeled "Stably housed, not dubsidized by direct homelessness system;" box labeled "imment risk of become unhoused" connected to box labeled "diversion;" that box is connected to the box labeled "stably housed" and one labeled "unhoused;" the "unhoused" box is connected to two boxes, "outreach" and "assess + guide;" the "outreach" box is connected also to the "assess + guide box," which leads to a dotted line encompassing six boxes; four are grouped together, labeled "shelters," "rapid exit," "rapid rehousing," and "permanent supportive housing;" the group of four is connected to the "stably housed" box as well as another group of two boxes, labeled "project-based units" and market-rate units;" this group of two boxes also leads to the "stably housed" box; around both of these groups of boxes is another dotted line labeled "wraparound supportive services;" the "market-rate units" box is circled and additional text says "this is where you come in"

Housing Quality Standards (HQS)

All units must meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS) to qualify for this and any Homelessness Response System program.