As voucher holders face difficulty finding homes, HUD hosts landlord symposium
Families with a government-subsidized housing voucher have just 60 days, without an extension, to find an available unit to lease.
But the housing shortage, among other factors, are the reason reports have shown voucher holders are struggling to lease apartments under the current time constraint.
And families that lose a voucher after it expires have to wait for an opportunity to get on a wait list again, which can take years.
A spokesperson from HUD’s regional office in Boston Wednesday said is someone fails to use the voucher with 60 days, the voucher is then issued to someone else.
On Wednesday, the Connecticut field office for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development held a virtual symposium to draw new landlords to the program and to give a refresher on the program to landlords who have already participated in it.
During the symposium, Jennifer Gottlieb Elazhari, the state director of the federal Office of Public and Indian Housing, said the HCV program, commonly know as “Section 8,” is the largest federal low-income housing assistance program.
She said the vouchers assists very low-income families, the elderly and disabled afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. The vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies, and a housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the housing authority.
Elazhari said eligible families can make up to 80% of the average median income; 30% of the households are elderly; and the average time a family spends in the voucher program is nine years.
The program also has categories that serve target populations such as people facing homelessness, youth aging out of foster care and homeless veterans.
Elazhari said the rent for voucher holders is based on a family’s anticipated gross annual income less deductions, and can increase or decrease with the household’s income.
Dispelling common myths about the program, Elazahari said owners can charge voucher holders what they could regularly charge for rent. She said it is not almost impossible to evict an HCV tenant when they violate the lease.
Elazhari said if the tenant does not pay rent and faces an eviction, they are likely to lose the voucher. Landlords can report evictions to housing authorities.
Elazhari said the benefits to HCV tenancy for landlords are: receiving timely and dependable payments from the housing authority; getting the full rental payment; receiving regular inspections; and being able to request reasonable rent increases.
She said landlords also may have the opportunity to tie a voucher subsidy to the property, not the tenant, for a contracted period of time.
Elizabeth McManus, of Savin Rock Communities, the West Haven housing authority, said the authority oversees more than 1,500 vouchers. She said each HCV participant is briefed on rules and regulations.
McManus said landlords can contact their local housing authorities about adding their units to the list. She said there are many resources on HUD’s website about what landlords should know.
The symposium also displayed HUD’s partnership with social agencies. A homeless veteran care coordinator and a housing specialist spoke about helping veterans attain housing with the vouchers. A representative of Journey Home, a Hartford-based non-profit working to end homelessness, spoke about the incentives landlords could receive, such as reimbursement for damages and unpaid rent.
During a question-and-answer period, a landlord said tenants with Section 8 vouchers, in her experience, have left debris such as furniture and damage after they have left. She asked the HUD officers if there was some sort of mitigation funding, like what Journey Home did, for landlords.
Elazhari said the office has recently issued guidance on landlord incentives to provide certain assistance such as cleaning services. She said there was new flexibility in administrative fees, and the landlord could advocate for that.