SOURCE: Westside Rentals

October 26, 2007 20:48 ET

Westside Rentals Doubles HUD Rental Housing Stock for Fire Relief

SANTA MONICA, CA--(Marketwire - October 26, 2007) - Southern California's leading home finding service, WestsideRentals.com, has agreed to assist the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in helping those displaced by the devastating wildfires in Southern California. President Bush declared a state of emergency earlier this week and has called governmental agencies to action.

WestsideRentals.com will open up its proprietary database of over 17,500 local rental listings to HUD officials to help meet the needs of the thousands affected and seeking relief. Founder Mark Verge sought an opportunity to use Southern California's largest database of vacancies to help fire victims and elected to collaborate with HUD.

Access to Westside Rentals' database is normally $60 per renter, but Verge agreed to temporarily include the listings in HUD's new National Housing Locator (NHL) database at no cost. The NHL database was announced this year as a means to combat situations like the housing emergency following Hurricane Katrina in which some victims still have not found proper housing. The NHL aggregates rental listings from various providers to provide resources for HUD and FEMA representatives. By adding the 17,500+ listings, WestsideRentals.com will more than double the current stock of housing options available to those impacted by the week's blazes.

The Santa Monica-based organization expanded to include the San Diego rental market last year and now has 7 office locations to help local renters throughout Southern California. Verge started in 1996 by calling local landlords and listing their vacancies for free out of his garage and then selling the list as the legendary 4 PM "HotSheet" to lines of eager renters. The organization has sustained growth and expanded to over 80 employees who regularly check with landlords to confirm the availability of their rentals. The service has evolved to serve the higher quality renters that landlords seek.

"We hope to alleviate some of the problems we've seen plague the aftermath of a disaster like Katrina. The fires hit close to home and housing was an area we could help, so working with HUD made sense," said spokesman Ryan Wolfe. "We've really become the business model for the rental market in Southern California, so it's the best way for HUD to penetrate the market and reach individual landlords."

A standard membership to WestsideRentals.com gives 60 days of access to the rental listings for $60. Landlords who wish to help the pending housing needs can advertise their vacancy for free on www.westsiderentals.com and be included in HUD's relief effort.

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