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PadSplit uses the Airbnb model to tackle the country’s affordable housing crisis

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One third of American families failed to make rent in June, and by September more than 20 million renters could be evicted by landlords.Can an Airbnb model provide relief?

To solve the problem of housing insecurity, PadSplit borrows a page from the Airbnb playbook by creating a marketplace where homeowners can list rooms for rent for long-term stays.

Each room comes furnished with wifi and includes access to laundry facilities. And the company provides access to free telemedicine services and reports weekly payments to credit agencies so renters can build their credit scores.

Currently, the company manages 1,000 units in the Atlanta area and has expanded its presence into Maryland. The company’s renters include teachers, grocery store employees, restaurant workers — all people whose services are considered essential during the COVID-19 epidemic. “40 percent of our population has been functionally homeless,” said company founder, Atticus LeBlanc. “The average income [for our renters] is $25,000 per year.”

The average age of an occupant in a PadSplit room is 39, but renters have been as young as 19 or as old as 77, according to the company.

A quick scan of PadSplit rates in the Atlanta area shows rents of roughly $140 to $250 per week for rooms in existing homes. “We are focused on longer term stays for lower income,” said LeBlanc.

The company screens tenants and landlords, including criminal background checks and employment verification. “We sit between a hotel provider and a longer term apartment,” said Leblanc. “Where we need to both be an immediate housing provider for people who are in difficult situations while also underwriting that [person].” Owners looking to rent on PadSplit also need to prove that they haven’t been convicted of a felony within the last seven years.

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Image Credits: luismmolina (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Launching PadSplit

LeBlanc, a New Orleans native turned Atlanta entrepreneur was named for Atticus Finch, the fictional lawyer whose fight for social justice in “To Kill A Mockingbird” is a staple of schoolroom lit assignments, and a model for white liberal southern gentry.

“My mother… said she wanted to give me someone to live up to,” says LeBlanc. 

With a degree in architecture from Yale University, LeBlanc has run a real estate development and construction business in Atlanta for over 12 years. He launched PadSplit in 2017, after writing up the idea for the business in response to a competition from the Atlanta housing non-profit, House ATL and the non-profit Enterprise Community Partners.

LeBlanc’s plan was selected as one of the finalists and he received a small grant from the organization and the JPMorgan Chase foundation to pursue the business.

With the help of John O’Bryan, a serial entrepreneur who had built businesses in the vacation rental industry, LeBlanc built up the marketplace that would become PadSplit, starting first in Atlanta and moving out to surrounding suburbs and into Maryland. LeBlanc later brought in Frank Furman, a Naval Academy graduate, US Marine Corps veteran and former McKinsey consultant to help grow the business. 

Now, the company, a Techstars accelerator graduate, has $10 million in new financing from Core Innovation Capital, Alate Partners, the Citi Impact Fund, Kapor Capital, Impact Engine and Cox Enterprises to expand PadSplit into Texas, starting with Houston and quickly ramp up hiring.

“PadSplit provides a truly unique solution to a complicated national problem that’s becoming more dire each day,” said Arjan Schütte, Founder and Managing Partner of Core Innovation Capital, in a statement. “We’re proud to support Atticus and the PadSplit team as they expand into new markets and introduce critical housing supply at a time when so many require affordable housing.”

Making money in affordable housing

According to LeBlanc, affordable housing is built around two things. One is the subsidy owners receive from the federal government and the second is a percentage of the cost of rentals. To convince owners that being in the affordable housing market was a good idea, LeBlanc just proved to them that they could get higher risk-adjusted returns versus other long-term rentals.

So far, that’s been proven out, he says. Through its model of fixed costs and weekly rent payments, PadSplit occupants have been able to save roughly $516 per month, according to data supplied by the company. Lowering rent has also allowed tenants to build credit, move into their own apartments and bought vehicles — or even, in some cases, houses of their own.

The company estimates it has also saved taxpayers over $203 million in subsidies by eliminating the the need to build subsidized housing units. Property owners have also benefited, the company said, increasing revenues on properties by over 60 percent.

And LeBlanc isn’t just the founder of PadSplit, he’s also a customer. “I rent a room downstairs in my personal home,” he said.

Ultimately, LeBlanc sees housing stability and a path to home ownership as one of the key tenets of economic equality in the United States.

“Every zoning law in America was based on a system that had no racial equity. We’re still battling those vestiges that exist in almost every jurisdiction,” he says.

And for LeBlanc the problem goes back to nearly 100 years. “If you acknowledge that racial inequality led to income stratification where it was impossible for returning Black GIs to get access to the same wealth building opportunities that white returning GIs had.. it’s no surprise that you have lower incomes by a substantial margin for African Americans as you do for whites.”

LeBlanc sees his business providing an additional revenue stream for the owners who rent properties, and an on-ramp to the financial system for people who are at risk or historically disenfranchised.

“We wanted to create a value proposition that is valuable to anyone in the housing space,” said LeBlanc. 

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
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When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

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Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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