RCAP Solutions Incompetence sends Section 8 Tenant to ER

As my tenant and I sat in the waiting area at RCAP Solutions, she confided in me.

"I went to the ER," she said. "This whole situation, I was so stressed. I had chest pain."

Surprised, but then, not really surprised, I said, "I'm so sorry. I've found this stressful, too."

This was my first time renting to anyone with a Section 8 voucher. As we sat I noted the waiting area. It was very modern and well-appointed. The walls were freshly painted royal purple. We were seated in chairs along one wall. To my right was the reception desk, looking somewhat oversized for the one person working there. Beyond that was the entrance, beside which there was a rack of glossy brochures. A digital screen opposite me displayed today's date. The American flag stood proudly beneath it. Ahead and to my left were three meeting rooms with slate doors and hand drawn chalk signs, identifying each room by number.  Directly left was a glass window into someone's tidy office. The lights were on but no one was apparently there. It was all glossy and new, reminiscent of a funky startup space in Cambridge. It looked as if someone had expended a great deal of time and money to create this space.

It was ten past eleven in the morning, and we had been waiting already 40 minutes for our 10:30 appointment. Our case worker had not yet graced us with his presence.

Earning My Section 8 Merit Badge

The trouble actually began six weeks earlier. On April 17, I notified my new tenant that her application was likely to pass. My new tenant -- let's call her Grace -- provided the rest of her documentation on April 27. Her limited income was augmented by her voucher, such that her income to rent ratio was actually very good. The best part of her application was her tenancy history, which was long and glowing. It wasn't just the current landlord, whose truthfulness is always somewhat under suspicion. (The current landlord might lie to get a bad tenant out.) But she also had good references from the previous landlord, and from the landlord before that. Grace got her passing score that day and on May 2, beating another non-section 8 applicant, presented me with a complete payment for her security deposit. I took the apartment off of the market.  We planned for a June 1 start.

With Section 8, the administrator requires certain paperwork to be filled out. We did this and both signed it, except for the part where the landlord may choose to designate an agent. I operate as myself without any agent, so we left it blank. My tenant hand delivered the paperwork along with all supporting materials required (for instance, proof that I was really the landlord). Disappointingly, our paperwork was rejected by the caseworker. Let's call him Steve. Apparently Steve wanted me to write something in the "agent" section. The following day Grace delivered the application back to me. I wrote "n/a" in the agent section, and Grace picked it up the next day for a second delivery to Steve. This was May 5.

Radio Silence

Grace was told the inspection of my apartment would be scheduled within three days. Grace was eager that this should happen, since she wanted to get in to clean. I was eager, too, since I had been researching online and learned that I might easily fail my inspection. I would need time to make repairs.

Two weeks went by and there was still no word about any inspection. On May 19th I texted Grace to enlist her help. I had tried calling Steve for interim updates, but he did not pick up either of my two calls. And this is what his voicemail said: he would be on vacation until April 21. Apparently, Steve's voicemail message is updated more or less monthly. Also, his voicemail was full and not accepting new messages. So Steve was telephonically MIA.

Grace was distressed. Her attempts to contact Steve over the phone had been similarly unsuccessful. The only way she could get an answer was by going to the office, which is difficult to do during the work day. So she asked me to ratchet up the pressure on them. There were only six business days left in the month and we seemed likely to miss our June 1 lease-up date.

If that happened, Grace would be a tenant-at-sufferance in her current apartment, an unlawful hanger-on. She would be blocking new tenants from moving into that apartment. She would be served an eviction notice. She would have no recourse to RCAP Solutions, and could, if the case went to court, end up with a permanent eviction record and potentially lifelong impairment in the housing market.

In a phone conversation, Grace told me that this would be the third time RCAP Solutions had missed her lease-up date, leaving her faced with eviction.

Both of the previous cases were settled out of court, which is why I had not seen anything negative during my background check.

Panic over the Inspection

The idea of missing our June 1st start date absolutely panicked me. Would Grace bail and find a different emergency apartment? Where would that leave me? I had already accepted a months' longer vacancy than I had wanted. If we couldn't start June 1, the apartment would be vacant for three months, an absolutely worst case record, potentially with no applicant able to fill it. Grace and I would, to varying degrees, each be seriously set back.

So just after 9am on May 21st, I started calling RCAP Solutions' main office. I was transferred to no fewer than five different people and voicemails. Here is what I had learned:

  • Steve was late for work. It was 9:48a and there was no ETA for him.
  • Inspections had absolutely no record of our application.
  • The main office had no record of our application.
  • It was important that we identify the exact day on which Grace submitted the paperwork.

We conferred, checked our records, and followed up with an emphatic "May 5th!" for the date we submitted.

Just after 4 o'clock on the 21st, Steve called me. (Had he just arrived at work?) I missed the call, but he said in a voicemail that he had located our abandoned application and had forwarded it to inspections and "put a rush on it." I didn't know what that meant, and his voicemail didn't sound particularly rushed, so I called back.

He didn't answer, and his voicemail was still full. I called the main office. After some discussion with Steve's coworker, they gave me the cell phone of the inspector and told me to call him. When I called, the inspector didn't answer, but his voicemail had room. I left a message. He returned my call later that evening.

He said RCAP Solutions was routinely last minute with inspections.

He agreed to help me out by coming over first thing tomorrow morning, Friday May 22. I was relieved.

The inspection went fine. I received a "pass/repair," which allowed us to lease up.

Where are the rental forms?

I called Steve in an attempt to get the required paperwork that would become our lease package. HUD has an addendum and RCAP Solutions has an addendum that must be signed along with my lease forms. Steve said he would email it that day, Friday.

Steve didn't email the forms Friday.

He didn't email them Monday.

He didn't email them or return calls on Tuesday or Wednesday.

There were only two business days before June 1.  Grace and I still had no rental agreement.

On Thursday, May 28, Grace and I managed to corner Steve on the phone and get an appointment for Friday morning. Normally RCAP's office is not open to the public on Friday's, but with an appointment we were going to be allowed in.

So Friday morning, as the minutes counted down the last day of May, we sat in the waiting room at RCAP Solutions, wondering if Steve would appear with the forms, or if our six week attempt to be landlord and tenant was about to crash and burn.

All's Well that Ends Well?

In the end we got leased up. But let's summarize:

  • On April 27th, Grace qualified for the apartment.
  • On May 2nd she had paid for it with her own money.
  • On May 5th we had completed all the paperwork.
  • Steve the RCAP Solutions caseworker
    • did nothing for Grace for 16 days;
    • did not return phone calls;
    • did not empty his voicemail;
    • only indirectly contributed to scheduling the inspection on May 22;
    • did nothing for Grace for another 7 days;
    • was an hour late to our scheduled appointment at his office;
    • had caused Grace to miss her move-in date twice before;
    • sent Grace to the ER with chest pains;
    • permitted us to lease up on 11am on the last possible business day.

A Warning to Landlords

This whole experience was completely unexpected. I never imagined that the worst part of renting to a Section 8 tenant would be her caseworker. I spoke to some other landlords, and here's what I learned:

For RCAP Solutions, this is normal.

Some caseworkers at RCAP Solutions have a good reputation. They do their job, and in comparison to their peers, are superlative in every way. But no one I spoke with was surprised to hear that I had found one of the duds.

It sheds light on an absolutely decadent aspect of public subsidy. Here on the one hand you have a glitzy office and no doubt well-heeled executives, who display the flag and fresh paint and schmooze all the funding their way. But have they spent their funding on the best caseworkers money can buy? No. Far from it. Their operations were absolutely slipshod in this one example, and their reputation is denigrated by many.

The same cannot be said of other administrators.

Worcester Housing Authority, by comparison, has a more or less sterling reputation. Take this one example. A landlord was upset at waiting in line to pick up her rental forms. So WHA created an expedited way for her to get them. They changed their processes in response to one call within one week of the call.

As landlords, when we have a Section 8 tenant apply, we really need to pay attention to who their administrator is, and then to who their caseworker is. For although it's illegal to discriminate on the basis of someone's receiving public assistance...

There is no law about refusing to work with incompetent administrators.

So if your tenant is from RCAP Solutions, tell them you love Section 8, but that you need to interview their case worker first. See what they do. If you can get through to the caseworker, maybe you got a good one. If not, it's a warning sign, and you should think twice about starting down that road. You and the tenant both might just end up at the ER.

RCAP Solutions treating everyone like family

This undated post from the RCAP website shows an intent to treat every client like family, at least for the duration of their one-year campaign. Perhaps the campaign was over when we started, or perhaps RCAP administrators dislike their family.

12 Responses to RCAP Solutions Incompetence sends Section 8 Tenant to ER

  1. jim Duffy says:

    I have had several RCAP Solutions tenants and never a problem with paper work. When the prospective tenant arrived she had all of the necessary paper with her. I filled them out and the prospect took them with her. Jim Duffy

    • Kimberly M says:

      I’m in the middle of the process with RCAP and so far so good, we are cutting it close with our inspection, however it’s only been since Friday that they had all of our paperwork. If you name matches what’s on your Tax Bill I’m not sure why they had you fill out an agency, however, if you’re an LLC it might be the reason. My fingers are crossed and hope to have her start her lease on Nov 1.

  2. Christine says:

    I have had a nightmare experience with this place. Have been promised a check (we are the landlords) several times and have not rec’d anything, can not reach anyone on the phone started calling at 8am this morning until 930am no-one on the two numbers I have ever picked up and then after 930am goes straight to voicemail, the person who answered the phone was the only person who tried to help me, I was sent to 3 other voice mails and they were all full, I finally got to leave a message but am not hopeful because the answering message SAID “PLEASE ONLY LEAVE ONE MESSAGE A DAY” so you know you will not be getting a call back anytime soon. I just feel bad for the tenants, we were told they lost our application for the inspection also , and that the tenant just seemed to have fallen through the cracks was promised a check no later than January 5th it is now the 20th , 8 months behind we are done.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Rcap here in Worcester is horrible. Had a horrible experience with them lasy year. They past inspection on a unit that really should be condemned. The place was nasty full of tools broken windows and missing windows too. No working stove the list goes on. Im not even making it up. Had everything udocumented pic email text ect. And even then they didnt want to act. After promesing me help moving and breaking my lease l. They backed out. [who knows what happend between the slum lord and them] Theymade me stay at that appt after a few minimal fixes. And after spending 10 days in a hotel. Kids missing school and all. The hotel was in another town could not even get me in one here in my town. Things kept getting worst landlord harrading me and walking into my apt without notice. Finally i let him take me to court. I withheld rent the legal way. I won the evedince was irrefutable. The judge said i could leave as soon as i found a unit. Yet sec 8 decided to go against the judges order. This was May 2016. Im still in the same unit with an apt waiting for them to do their thing. Rcap said i could not moce the 15th today that it had to be the first. But lets see how that goes. In conclusion if i had any other way to move out on my own i would. Rcap solution is a joke. From the director to the caseworker.

    Ps. They are mostly on vacation or so it seems. Now i call and it goes straight to vm or ring s then vm. And thats the main number. Just today I’ve tried calling over 20 times. Even blocked my number to see if that helps.

  4. Karen Moore says:

    Stupidity of the prospective tenants and everyone knows that no matter where you are on the year,you need to pay rent for where your laying your head! And copy everything! Faxes and copying!!

  5. Karen Moore says:

    Btw,yes,it’s very stressful but not to the points of going to the emergency room! ? Seriously though? I’m VERY panicked myself in trying to get outta here and I’ve been continuously harassed by SMOC housing,however,I’m NOT letting them get to me that way! I’m NOT going to NOT pay my rent ruining my good standing with them!!

  6. Spunky says:

    I have called RCAP Solutions ( Worcester Office) 3 times/ left messages & the Gardner Office several times to report section 8 fraud but still never received a phone call back.

  7. JESSICA says:

    why is rcap so unprofessional. in returnting a call but yet you have to turn in your info in a certain time frame or be terminated…. it is stressfull .. I deserve the respect and dignity for a call back when I have a issue ir a question I have been calling some since oct 28 2017. no one called me back. I have written letters still nothing. left messages on everyone voicemail thinking there must be a responsible person someone there. but no they play by their own rules and jyst dobt give a f—ck… this is wrong unethical. I am on my own with housing not replying to my questions.. I will be homeless.. I evan called the person in charge of preventing homeless . no reply call. w t. f. . how can I get help … maybe the peoplemakng donations should know how irresponsible.they are but they probably dont care either… no one cares in this world I live In fear if I will have a roof over my head fir me and my child. where can I go get help ..

  8. Arabella Mudon says:

    The American flag stood proudly beneath it. Ahead and to my left were three meeting rooms with slate doors and hand-drawn chalk signs, identifying each room by number.

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