Property Owner Turns a Negative into a Positive

September 29, 2020

As more adults and children seek out the Mission due to financial hardships related to COVID-19, several of our current clients are completing the final phases of our program and are ready to move out to make room for others. They have jobs and cars, but housing remains an obstacle. Thank God for partners like Jay Smith and other property owners who are answering the call to make affordable housing available!

Jay met Chris Hill, Director of Men’s Ministry, several months ago and realized that he might be able to help. With several units in the downtown area and near NC State, Jay had some vacancies because students no longer needed to live near campus and were moving back home.  “Because of COVID, this got me thinking that Raleigh Rescue Mission would be a good fit,” says Jay. “It turned a negative into a positive for all of us.”

The Mission is accountable for rent payment, and the Mission handles the maintenance on the apartments. In addition, clients must adhere to an extensive list of house rules. The tenants have been wonderful and Jay hasn’t had any problems. One landlord told Jay, “If it wasn’t for the Raleigh Rescue units, I wouldn’t be in this business. Their oversight keeps me from hiring a property manager. For the money I’m saving, I can help out other families.”

Jay has a very personal connection to homelessness. He grew up in Los Angeles, where his mom “dragged him along” to numerous volunteer activities early on. Life took a turn for the family, and Jay’s own mom became homeless. He and his brothers searched for and found her in a local shelter, still taking care of others despite her own circumstances.

“I had one way of thinking about homelessness before, and that is that homeless people were all mentally ill. But that’s not the case at all. Any of us can be homeless before we know it. Raleigh, as with other cities, has an affordable housing crisis. A lot of people are talking about what to do, but it’s one of the hardest things to comprehend and tackle.” One solution: “I think we should have incentives for landlords and developers who would like to create higher density living in areas that needs homes desperately. Not gigantic homes, but small to moderate homes in higher density areas that would build up a sense of community.”

“My mom had that ability to make people feel comfortable,” reflects Jay. “I’ve met some people in Raleigh who have that gift. They’re approachable. They can calm people down, turn down the tension. I think Raleigh Rescue Mission is like that in our community too. They’re an amazing community asset. They’re right across the street from Moore Square and have a Thrift Store in North Raleigh where my entire family can volunteer, shop and donate. They appreciate you as a person and, like my mom, understand that everyone has something to give. Providing low rent apartments – it’s something I can do.”

If you’d like to learn more about how you can help, contact Chris Hill at