Want to be a good neighbor? Get the DVDPublished 12:00pm Saturday, March 9, 2013
Newcomers to Austin are getting a few tips on how to be a good neighbor.
A group of local organizations released a roughly 15-minute DVD last year about landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities. The video, “Being a Good Neighbor,” is slowly but surely spreading throughout the city to help people new and old figure out their roles at home.
“It wasn’t just for landlords, but it was also for tenants, as well,” said Jake Vela, executive director for the Welcome Center of Austin.
The idea for the DVD came about at a community meeting in 2010 through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. SMIF representatives met with residents after getting a $15,000 grant and asked for ideas from the community to help local minority business owners and entrepreneurs. Though the grant went to another project, several people came forward with an idea to create a DVD outlining the responsibilities a tenant in town has, in order to help people new to town adapt to local life.
From there, numerous groups decided to go forward with the idea, eventually securing funding from the United Way of Mower County in 2011.
“There were a ton of partners around the table, and we said, you know, what can we do to help local tenants?” Vela said.
And so the Welcome Center, along with the Austin Human Rights Commission, the local Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the Austin Area Landlord Association and the city’s Planning & Zoning Office decided to film the DVD in English and Spanish. The video explains steps to take as a landlord and as a tenant, and covers safety, indoor and outdoor maintenance, and moving-related issues among other things.
“Again, it just kind of addresses the current concerns landlords had,” Vela said. “We also want to be able to protect the tenants, as well.”
The DVD came out early last year, and Vela said about 1,000 copies were printed. They are being distributed throughout the city, from HRA buildings to local businesses. The video can be seen for free at austinwelcome
center.org/media.html, and Vela said the HRC will also have the videos on its website.
The Welcome Center incorporates the video into its rental classes, where local volunteers expand on tenant responsibilities for class participants.
Overall, Vela rates the DVD and the efforts to educate local tenants a success, but he still hopes new residents will take advantage of the free resource.
“We want to give them to as many people as we can,” he said.