As broker/owner of KASI Homes, Keisha Hosea has worked to fight what she calls the "insidious plight of homelessness" in the region. Last year alone, she negotiated over 40 leases with landlords and property managers to house homeless individuals.
With a background in social work and a heart still set on fighting social issues, she found a way to use her skills to help locate housing for those in need. By working with local landlords and educating them on where they can help fill this gap, she forged countless relationships. As landlords began to gain trust in the process, they started to dedicate more units to the endeavor.
Here, Hosea discusses the in-depth work she's doing for the homeless community in her area and how real estate professionals can be sensitive to the delicate process of reopening the U.S.:
RISMedia's Real Estate Newsmakers honors were created to recognize the people who are raising the standards of professionalism in the real estate industry. What does it mean to you to be named among this year's 300 honorees?
Being named among this year's 300 honorees means that I have an additional opportunity to educate the public at large about this social injustice among many. It's an additional opportunity to shed light on what homelessness is, what homelessness is not and how collectively we can effect positive change. Raising the standards of professionalism in real estate means that it's hugely important for the public to see that this industry is full of people who care about issues that affect all of us and that real estate professionals are multifaceted in the way that we approach business and the world.
You were selected as a Newsmaker within the Crusaders category, which is dedicated to the champions of a better way within our industry. Could you tell us a little bit about how you got your start fighting homelessness?
The honest truth is that I have been fighting homelessness in various ways for over 26 years. I started my professional career as a social worker. I worked as a child protective services worker in my second job out of graduate school. At that time, being homeless could actually be one of the reasons to detain and keep children in protective custody. There were many parents who were really trying but just could not afford or find housing. I began making it a priority to help parents navigate the system to obtain housing, help parents furnish their homes and then help them regain custody of their children.
After obtaining a real estate license and working in traditional real estate sales for several years, while still volunteering in a social work capacity for various endeavors, I came across an opportunity to work hands on with a local non-profit that specialized in providing homeless services. I thought it was a great way to meet a need and actually merge my two professions. I knew that it would be challenging, but I love beating the odds so I jumped in six years ago and could not be happier! The consultative work that I perform allows me the opportunity to educate the public, educate and engage governmental entities, and most importantly house people experiencing homelessness.
What are some of the tactics you employ when negotiating leases with landlords and property managers to house homeless individuals?
The primary tactic I employ when negotiating leases to house homeless individuals is education. I concentrate on first clarifying any stereotypes and myths that exist about homeless individuals. They do not all have the same story and it's important to humanize each and every one. The other tactics employed are all the things that people should be able to count on, such as being client centered, understanding each person's needs, being dependable and resolving matters as quickly as possible. These are some of the things that are seemingly simple, but far too often fall through the cracks and cause negotiations to either stall or fall completely apart. By remaining ever vigilant and mindful about remaining a servant for all parties to a transaction, it yields favorable results for everyone involved.
Could you tell us about the Landlord Appreciation Event you help plan and host every year?
Landlords tend to be pretty busy as a whole. What I've noticed is that a large majority of the landlords who become involved with this socially conscious way of doing business, begin to go above and beyond what the typical landlord does on a regular basis. It's magical honestly. With that said, it only seems logical to invite them to relax, have a nice meal and be acknowledged for the extraordinary way that they're helping to change the face of homelessness and make a positive impact on the world while still accomplishing their desired returns on investment.
What would your advice be to other agents about moving forward as our country begins to reopen in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?
My advice to agents as we move forward with reopening is to first listen to understand instead of listening to answer. We must change the way we communicate with one another. Too often we're so focused on what we believe is someone's objective, goal or story that we fail to really comprehend what is really needed. We fail to comprehend others' experiences and, therefore, we fail at meeting their needs.
There will likely be many people who've experienced financial issues for the first time. There will also be those who fall deeper into financial despair. These people will need someone who will actively listen as they attempt to figure out their next steps. I urge real estate professionals to exercise extreme patience. If you just can't exercise that type of patience, please refer them to an agent that has the ability to do this. They deserve this.