EvCC students gain marketable property management skills

EVERETT — Twila Epler signed up for Everett Community College’s two-quarter property management program on a whim because a friend was taking it.

Now she’s one of 16 low-income students who graduated July 28 from the program created by Housing Hope, Coast Real Estate and EvCC.

Epler, 26, of Everett said she was completely surprised by the thoroughness of the program.

“I expected to gain some experience, but not nearly as much as we have,” she said.

Epler is interning at Brierwood Manor, a 156-unit apartment complex south of Everett Mall, learning how to work as a leasing agent.

“This program is a huge value to all of the students who get the opportunity to go through it and learn the industry, but it’s a huge value to the industry,” she said. “Many people who get into property management don’t have all of this training.”

“She’s wonderful,” Brierwood Manor manager Rebecca Collins said of Epler. “She’s rented eight to 10 apartments and even improved our advertising.”

Epler has done everything at Brierwood from picking up trash to performing move-in and move-out checks, adjusting tenants’ bills and submitting tenant reports — both good and bad, she said.

“This program was created to provide high-quality training that we hope will lead to jobs for students who have struggled to find work,” said Coast Real Estate Services president Shawn Hoban, whose company provided instructors for the program. “Local properties benefit through the availability of skilled, trained future employees.”

The program prepares students to work as leasing agents, on-site managers and maintenance personnel for apartments and commercial building. It includes a 200-hour internship. Five students have already been hired by the companies where they’re interning.

Epler said she had a tough time holding down a job before the program.

“Without the skills or any special trade, I wasn’t getting anywhere in life,” she said. “Now, I feel like I’m going to get somewhere — I’ve got something that I am good at.”

While Epler finishes up her internship, she’s starting to look for work in the field and finds her options “amazing,” whether it’s in residential, commercial, government or corporate property management, maintenance, accounting, legal compliance or human resources.

The property management program was created in partnership with Housing Hope, which provides affordable housing and helps families become self-sufficient.

“For years we at Housing Hope have sought avenues to help homeless families improve their incomes. We have programs at our residential facilities which create family stability and develop basic skills. This property management program is a powerful new partnership that builds on our program to help families gain knowledge and specialized skills for meaningful work and wage progression opportunities,” said executive director Ed Petersen.

The program is a good example of how Everett Community College can work closely with local employers to train students for the work force, said EvCC President David Beyer.

“Everett Community College is proud to be part of a partnership that trains students for jobs in our community,” he said.

For more information about the property management program, contact Melissa Helmenstine at mhelmenstine@everettcc.edu or 425-388-9072.

Meet the players

Coast Real Estate Services is a diversified real estate management company with property and asset management service for office, retail, medical, multifamily and other properties throughout the northwest U.S.

Housing Hope operates 17 multifamily facilities in Snohomish County focused on homeless and low-income households. Its 120 apartments have specialized services for families with children, including life skills training, job readiness, child development and child care. More info: www.housinghope.org.

Everett Community College serves more than 20,000 students every year who are preparing to transfer to four-year schools, earning certificates and experiencing hands-on learning. More info: www.everettcc.edu.

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