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The Harbert College is dedicated to developing graduates who are highly-skilled, professionally prepared, confident, ethical, and globally minded. Andy Capps, a 2006 alumnus, checks all of those boxes.
Andy Capps’ concern for family, friends and his successful business was clear when the threat of a pandemic loomed large in mid-March. Personal fears are human nature. Human nature, however, quickly morphed into the human touch.
“As I took a moment to self-reflect on that stress, I recognized that it was rooted in selfishness,” he said. “I was thinking about how this pandemic was going to affect me. So I decided to rise above that and look for something I could control and then take that to benefit others.”
Capps, who earned a degree in business administration from the Harbert College in 2006, recognized a growing problem and acted upon it. As COVID-19 wreaked havoc with the nation’s workforce and economy, thousands were left unemployed with little means to pay rent, and provide for their families. Federal assistance allowed for short-term eviction moratoriums. But then what?
“Being in property management, I know firsthand about how many people are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Capps, co-founder/CEO of Atlanta-based RESICAP, a leading organization in the single-family rental industry. “Roughly 60 percent of Americans are one paycheck away from not being able to pay their rent. People are in trouble, so I decided to take something I could control and help individuals that are in a worse position than myself financially and were at risk of homelessness.”
Relevium means “relief” in Latin. But for 16 families and 54 individuals so far across the United States, it means much more. Capps, the 2019 Auburn University Entrepreneur of the Year, co-founded Relevium, a non-profit foundation dedicated to providing rental financial assistance to those who need it most. In just three months, Relevium has already provided more than $50,000 to families and plans to payout at least $250,000 by the end of the year. To those who qualify, Relevium provides short-term rental assistance, providing extra time for families to find employment and get back on their feet financially.
“But the hardships aren’t all related to employment,” said Capps, CEO of the organization, who has funded nearly 100 percent of the operation but welcomes outside donations in order to reach more families in need. “There might be deceased family members or medical debt piling up – any event that has prevented you from being able to pay rent and become at risk of eviction and, ultimately, homelessness. We help families get back on solid footing.
“The stories of some of these people can really tug on your heartstrings. Some of their stories are heartbreaking. There are people with multiple deaths in the family, recently one a husband, and recently a child.”
Capps, who actively screens each applicant, said applicants are vetted properly to ensure that financial help is being distributed to those who need it most. “Upon submission of the application our technology assigns the individual or family a need score, and the higher the needs score the higher priority,” said Capps, who co-founded Relevium with RESICAP partner Lance Popp. “We then have a team verify the applicants information and financial status, contact their current landlord, and complete a background check prior to it going before a committee for final approval.”
Capps’ benevolent side was planted as a youth and reinforced as a student at Auburn.
“So many moral characteristics were instilled in me early on through the great professors I had in business school as an undergraduate,” he said. “Ethics is clearly one of the underlying fundamentals of business. The morals and ethics instilled in me at Auburn are certainly something that’s helped me along my path through RESICAP and Relevium. Whether you’re running a foundation or a for profit business, you will encounter ethical dilemmas. You’ve got to have your moral compass properly calibrated to successfully navigate those situations.”
What’s Relevium’s profit in all of this? Meeting people’s needs.
“It’s been the most gratifying thing that I’ve ever done,” Capps said. “Words cannot express the type of feeling this gives you when you’re helping other people that are in a state of need. It is unlike any other feeling.”