Agencies Trained on RentWise Curriculum

By Sara Croymans, Extension Educator, and Lori Hendrickson, Extension Educator

July 2018

RentWiseNearly 30 percent of Minnesota families live in rental units.  Families may have tough financial decisions to make when they may be paying more for rent than they can afford.  Being a successful renter may affect many different aspects of one’s life.  People have the basic human right to access and keep safe-affordable housing in order to foster well-being. 

Educators have observed a need for new renters and immigrants to understand the process of acquiring housing; for homeless individuals and those previously incarcerated need to find and keep affordable housing. Affordable housing markets have tightened and rental prices have risen drastically. 

From 2000-2015, the number of renter households in Minnesota increased by approximately 120,000 households. In 2017, nearly 550,000 families spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing, meaning they are rent burdened. The National Center for Children in Poverty (2011), defines rent burden as spending more than 30 percent of household income on rent. 

Rent burden impacts nearly 50% of Minnesota households (Colburn, G. and Allen, R. 2016).  Households across the state are spending thousands more than they can afford each year to pay the rent for a modest apartment (Out of Reach Minnesota, 2017). These factors combined create a rental crisis making the need for rental education even more critical.

To address these issues, the Extension Center for Family Development offers RentWise, a program which provides people information and strategies to become successful renters. 

Recently, three RentWise Train the Trainer sessions were held across the state.  Forty agency staff were trained during May and June at trainings held in St. Paul, Marshall and Bemidji. Extension Educator Sara Croymans facilitated the training in Marshall with 16 individuals representing agencies that work with low income parents, individuals with mental health issues, and individuals with disabilities. 

Participants in the session will use the curriculum and materials with their clients who would benefit from additional education and skills to become a successful renter in one-on-one education or group settings. 

The RentWise curriculum is organized into three units: Acquiring Your Rental Housing; Sustaining Your Home Environment and Relationships; and Aspiring: Your Future Housing. Agency staff are able to pick and choose the right activities and resources to customize the education for their organization’s participants. RentWise participants will better understand the benefits of a cooperative relationship with the property manager and learn how to find adequate, safe, affordable housing. They will also receive resources to help them maintain records and remember key steps to maintaining their unit and a collaborative relationship with their landlord and neighbors. Participants who complete the six hour RentWise education will:

  • Gather information to evaluate rental housing.
  • Identify changing needs and wants in rental housing.
  • Practice financial tasks related to housing.
  • Recognize the components of a lease agreement.
  • Practice positive communication skills.
  • Identify methods to keep rental housing clean and safe.
  • Explain proper procedures to end tenancy and avoid eviction. 

To learn more about RentWise or to request a training visit https://extension.umn.edu/renting/rentwise-curriculum

Contact Sara Croymans at croym001@umn.edu or 320-226-6052

© 2018 Regents of the University of Minnesota.  All rights reserved. University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.  In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this material is available in alternative formats upon request. Direct requests to 612-624-1222.