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Sean Keenan

As coronavirus spreads, affordable housing-focused start-up helps keep people at home

Sean Keenan

By Sean Keenan

“There’s no question that the demand for affordable housing has increased over these past few weeks.”

That’s Atticus LeBlanc, CEO of PadSplit, an Atlanta-based start-up that helps homeowners divide up their houses to offer affordable rentals.

As a novel coronavirus sweeps the globe, ravaging businesses and forcing people to isolate themselves, the importance of hourly service workers is becoming glaringly clear. Still, many have lost — and will continue to lose — their jobs, putting a question mark behind their living situations.

PadSplit, which is predominantly utilized by lower-income hourly workers, aims to ensure people at risk of missing paychecks can stay sheltered, fed, and healthy, LeBlanc tells SaportaReport in an interview.

The young company has been working with local and national philanthropic agencies to ensure its clients aren’t forced onto the streets due to unemployment or underemployment.

“We are all having to reevaluate our current and new reality,” LeBlanc says. “We’re a start-up, so we’re always operating on a tight budget,” but the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease spread by the coronavirus, has of course thrown the company a curveball.

Within the last week, more than 100 of PadSplit’s more than 700 clients have reached out for assistance making rent payments, and the start-up recently secured a $50,000 grant from a national nonprofit to help do just that.

Additionally, there are rooms available for college students who have been displaced by the many local universities that have been forced to shutter residences due to the pandemic, and PadSplit is offering to knock 20 percent off the first month’s rent.

“When all of the universities effectively closed their doors, we realized students would be displaced and not have access to local support and, in many cases, would be left to fend for themselves,” LeBlanc says.

And for tenants with health concerns, PadSplit recently partnered with Teladoc, a company that allows patients to link with healthcare professionals digitally — and on the start-up’s dime.

(Header image, via PadSplit: A PadSplit member outside her shared home.)

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5 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Michael Alger March 24, 2020 2:03 pm

    the major issue at hand in this conversation is that PadSplit never bothered to talk to local residents before implementing their idea, as well-intentioned and helpful as the idea might be. Now that they’re facing backlash of having not done the hard work of awareness-raising and community relationship-building, they want to take things to the state to change the law (HB980) to accommodate their idea. Rather than backpedaling and admitting mistakes, which would likely benefit their cause, they are going to the halls of power to manipulate laws in their favor. As helpful as affordable housing ideas like this are/could be, the bottom line is that without community input, it either fails as a concept or fails the other people who live in the community. Of course I would be curious to know if the PadSplit CEO isn’t a resident of any neighborhood where such a property would go, so the decreasing real estate values wouldn’t affect him…..

    While co-housing and boarding houses may be a valuable tool for reducing the affordable housing problem, we believe it is important to protect the integrity of single-family neighborhoods.

    • Local governments closest to the community should determine their zoning standards.
    • In DeKalb County co-housing is being marketed under the name Padsplit. The owner converts the living room and dining room of single-family homes into bedrooms producing a house of 5-7 bedrooms where 5-7 residents
    share the existing kitchen and bathrooms. Residents are screened for employment and criminal records. Rent is collected weekly.
    • Several co-housing properties are operating in south DeKalb. The owners never sought building permits because they cannot meet the zoning code. Since there were no inspections, the County doesn’t know if the units meet
    safety codes. They do not operate with Business Licenses. When neighbors complain about co-housing and units are discovered, Code Enforcement has cited the owners and the issue is going to court.
    • 47% of DeKalb households are currently renters. 29% of the rental housing units in DeKalb are in single-family homes. This means there is already a substantial amount of rental housing within single-family zoned residential
    neighborhoods.
    • DeKalb also allows accessory dwelling units within single-family zoning districts. This is a legal, affordable housing product
    • DeKalb also permits personal care homes within single-family districts as well as childcare and home occupations.
    • Adding co-housing, boarding houses and groups of any size to the permitted uses within all single-family zoning districts will weaken the integrity of the single-family residential neighborhoods within DeKalb and throughout the State.
    • Neighbors living near co-housing have found the tenants to be disruptive to their neighborhoods. There is regular turnover of tenants, cars are parked on lawns, more traffic at night and more noise at all hours.

    DeKalb County staff is considering alternative locations for co-housing, but does not believe it is conducive to improving the quality of life in our single-family neighborhoods.

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  2. Avatar
    Michael Alger March 24, 2020 2:04 pm

    While co-housing and boarding houses may be a valuable tool for reducing the affordable housing problem, we believe it is important to protect the integrity of single-family neighborhoods.

    • Local governments closest to the community should determine their zoning standards.
    • In DeKalb County co-housing is being marketed under the name Padsplit. The owner converts the living room and dining room of single-family homes into bedrooms producing a house of 5-7 bedrooms where 5-7 residents
    share the existing kitchen and bathrooms. Residents are screened for employment and criminal records. Rent is collected weekly.
    • Several co-housing properties are operating in south DeKalb. The owners never sought building permits because they cannot meet the zoning code. Since there were no inspections, the County doesn’t know if the units meet
    safety codes. They do not operate with Business Licenses. When neighbors complain about co-housing and units are discovered, Code Enforcement has cited the owners and the issue is going to court.
    • 47% of DeKalb households are currently renters. 29% of the rental housing units in DeKalb are in single-family homes. This means there is already a substantial amount of rental housing within single-family zoned residential
    neighborhoods.
    • DeKalb also allows accessory dwelling units within single-family zoning districts. This is a legal, affordable housing product
    • DeKalb also permits personal care homes within single-family districts as well as childcare and home occupations.
    • Adding co-housing, boarding houses and groups of any size to the permitted uses within all single-family zoning districts will weaken the integrity of the single-family residential neighborhoods within DeKalb and throughout the State.
    • Neighbors living near co-housing have found the tenants to be disruptive to their neighborhoods. There is regular turnover of tenants, cars are parked on lawns, more traffic at night and more noise at all hours.

    DeKalb County staff is considering alternative locations for co-housing, but does not believe it is conducive to improving the quality of life in our single-family neighborhoods.

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  3. Avatar
    Atlanta Resident March 25, 2020 9:36 pm

    NO!!!! NO!!!! NO!!!! Rooming houses a great way to trash a neighborhood

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  4. Avatar
    Michael Alger March 27, 2020 9:00 pm

    On Tuesday March 10th at 2:00 pm. at Dekalb County Magistrate court room 2-E, there was to be a court hearing concerning the illegal boarding houses that’s springing up in the Clifton Springs Community.

    Dekalb County Department of Code Enforcement Urgently suggested surrounding neighbors attend that hearing in great numbers to express their concerns. Approximately 70 people were in attendance.

    there must be a stop to these illegal houses that drive down property values.

    The defendant, Mr. Leblanc, the owner of Pad Split, the company responsible for these illegal houses, has expressed a desire to establish hundreds or maybe even a thousand (1000) of these illegal houses in the 30032 and 30034 zip code areas.

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    1. Avatar
      Atlanta Resident March 29, 2020 2:27 pm

      Thanks for posting this info Michael. These rooming houses will not only lower property values but will negatively impact quality of life
      resulting in a mass exodus of owner occupied households. It’s an old developer trick that is now attempting to legalize itself with a
      cute name & a large ration of guilt shaming meant to conceal avarice via real estate harvesting.

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