Thursday, May 12 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS – With house prices soaring and rental costs skyrocketing, local families are struggling to find affordable housing, even with Section 8 housing vouchers.

According to the city of Colorado Springs, the Colorado Springs Housing Authority says vouchers don’t go as far as they used to because of rapidly rising rents. The city is concerned about the pressure this is placing on working and low-income families.

“We are trying to find accommodation with this voucher, but we have potential owners who think it is not good and that the people on these vouchers are less desirable,” said Judith Miskell.

Miskell and his partner Penny Gilliland scrambled to find a new home after losing the price of their current one. Since starting their home search in October, the couple have faced a series of challenges.

“I’ve been stuck looking for a house three times. Day and night I called rental companies and then a real estate agent told us across the street that these vouchers are not good,” Miskell said. . “How come we’re going to rent a house with this voucher, on credit or not when the market is like that.” For example, in our area our algorithm (payment standard) for a three bedroom house or apartment is set at $ 1,595 and most houses in the area are priced higher than that. The housing specialist says that electricity should be included in the price, and nine times out of ten, what place on earth has electricity included in the rent. “

The couple got a Section 8 voucher to help keep costs down when their two granddaughters, one of whom has special needs, were placed in their care.

“This would allow for more home care for her needs. We have noticed that she seems to be doing a lot better with me at home, so I have reduced the hours of my work outside the home. house as well as work taking care of Penny’s aunt inside the house, ”Miskell said.

Between poor credit, homeowners and the current rental market, Miskell says it’s nearly impossible to find a new home.

“There are a lot of problems with this system designed to help families like ours. We know someone who is also looking for a house, a one bedroom house, and they are also facing the same credit issues. I think it’s important to get the word out because why wouldn’t something that is designed to help families, a voucher, have some sort of provision that would accompany someone’s credit that might not not be good, ”Miskell said.

“We’re out in eight days, and it could happen to anyone,” said Gilliland.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs Office of Rental Assistance says families in their Section 8 voucher program report that their request is one of the hundreds when units come online, and available units are difficult to find. locate because current tenants are not moving at the rate they once were.

“It differs by community, but in metro Denver we are seeing a very saturated market, which means there are, I guess, ten to twenty tenants for each unit. There are multiple people who apply for any available unit because there are simply no available units. The economy is doing well, landlords can charge more for these units because it is a very popular product, ”said Katherine Helgerson, Office of Rent Assistance.

Helgerson says each Public Housing Authority (PHA) has a limit on the funds each family can receive for rent assistance.

“We’re only allowed to set our payment standard between 90 and 110 percent of what HUD publishes for each county so we can go as high as possible, but in some communities, especially the metro area, we don’t won’t be able to meet those market rents. If we went as high as possible, we would serve fewer people, ”Helgerson said.

She says there is a law that prohibits landlords from refusing to rent to voucher holders.

“We refer any tenant who says they didn’t tell me section 8, their Craiglist ad says no section 8, to the Colorado Civil Rights Division because they’re spearheading the bill,” Helgerson said.

The Colorado Springs Housing Authority says its Section 8 program is seriously underfunded by the US Department of Housing and Development, but it has worked with several developers and community agencies to increase the supply of affordable housing. In a statement, a spokesperson for HUD said the following:

The demand for housing assistance often exceeds the resources available to HUD and local housing agencies, causing waiting periods. That’s why HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge supports President Biden’s Build Back Better framework that has been passed by the US House of Representatives.

The plan contains a significant expansion of the Housing Choice Voucher program, which would include funds to provide more housing support to families.

Anyone interested in helping the family find an affordable home can email them at [email protected]

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