Proprietor: Carlito Montanez, Executive Director
763 South Lime Street, Lancaster firstname.lastname@example.org
When Carlito Montanez went through a difficult personal circumstance where he lost everything and found himself without a home, he moved from house to house staying with a number of different friends for weeks. He finally went to the tenants of the investment property he owned and gave them proper notice that they needed to move out. They asked if he would want to live there with them so that they could share the house. That way they wouldn’t need to move out and he could have a place to stay. He took them up on their offer which allowed him to pay his mortgage and get back on his feet.
It was this experience that gave Carlito, a lifelong Lancaster City resident, the inspiration to start a business where he could help other persons experiencing homelessness by providing a reasonably-priced, clean, comfortable place to stay.
Through his business, Montanez Properties, he currently owns three properties in Lancaster City containing a total of twenty-two units, and he plans on expanding in the future. “Word gets around that I help people,” explains Carlito, and there is currently a lengthy waiting list with some of the residents waiting over a year for a room. “Being good pays off,” he adds. “I try to work with persons experiencing homelessness versus those who might be, for example, living with a relative and just wanting a change of scenery. I do a lot of networking with other social service agencies who provide similar services so if residents don’t have the money to get in I will work with them by trying to connect them to the services provided by those organizations.” He has sometimes even taken residents to work or temporarily reduced their rent so that they can buy a bus pass. At the end of each year he also pays a delinquent bill for a needy person who has a large, outstanding balance on a utility bill.
Residents may stay as long as they would like in the furnished rooms where everything is included – even cable television. “When people live here they feel like they’re somebody. When they walk in here they pay the rent happy – they actually smile when they pay the rent!”
Carlito appreciates the fact that owning his own business has allowed him to spend more time with his daughter, plus he doesn’t have to pay for child care since his family can help care for his daughter while his wife is at work and he needs to take care of something at one of his properties. He thoroughly enjoys the ability to make his own hours.
In January ’09, Carlito graduated from ASSETS and officially went into business as Montanez Properties. “ASSETS made it “legitimate business” by helping me with my business plan which I took to a local bank,” he says. “They loaned me the money to purchase additional properties. This is a business – I own it, I created it, and it makes me feel good.”
Although Carlito maintains the properties himself he does offer a break on rent to those who assist with some of the cleaning. He says that neighbors love having his properties close-by because everyone keeps things clean. Every Saturday Carlito works with the residents to clean up the surrounding neighborhood and in return they also receive deductions from their rent.
As for those who want to start their own business, Carlito says, “You have to believe. Because if you just have a little bit of doubt it’s gonna throw you off. You really have to believe that it can be done because I’ve seen a lot of businesses start up and they go, “I don’t really know if I can do this,” and they have a little bit of doubt. But I say believe – and be ready to work 24/7 – especially in this line of work.”