A shortage of landlords who are willing to participate in a Section 8 Housing Choice program locally is approximately 10% behind what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development wants for public housing agencies.
Northwest Georgia Housing Authority Executive Director Sandra Hudson told her board that HUD wants a 95% lease rate for housing vouchers allocated to the agency.
The authority is running at an 85% rate as of the end of April.
A lot of the problem involves the lack of landlords who want to participate in the program, Hudson said. The Heritage Pointe Apartments on Redmond Circle are no longer accepting Section 8 vouchers and a number of people who had been living there with federal assistance have had to be relocated.
Attorney Stewart Duggan told the authority a ruling in a Texas case had ruled in favor of landlords, supporting their argument that they were not violating the terms of fair housing laws by not participating in the program.
Hudson said she hopes that the Georgia Department of Community Affairs will open up 76 units in the old Willingham Village housing community off Brookwood Avenue in West Rome.
The authority is transferring funding from 66 units at Willingham to the Altoview Terrace community, which will be constructed at East 14th Street and Spring Creek Street, and 12 units to the Maple Avenue corridor.
Once HUD reaches an agreement with Willingham Village, the authority can own the property.
“We’re going to go in and renovate all 76 units and utilize those for Section 8. We’ll own them, we’ll collect the rent and those will be non-federal dollars,” Hudson said.
She said non-federal money can be used for anything from the children’s academy to guarantees for new housing development.
The NWGHA will be getting a $460,000 grant from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program that will be used to build two additional one-bedroom duplex units in the area of Maple Avenue in East Rome. The authority plans to pour slabs and start framing on a couple of duplexes on East 12th Street next week.
The land for those homes was purchased with previous NSP funds.
Hudson also said she would try again to seek Choice Neighborhood planning grant funds for the East Rome area. It will be at least the third time Hudson and the NWGHA have sought the funds. An application in 2016 was rejected because of technical errors included in the application by an outside consultant. A follow-up application in 2017 was similarly not funded.
For that project $350,000 would be earmarked for planning to improve the neighborhood and $900,000 to do a specific project.
“We’re not really sure what we’re going to do,” Hudson said.
Rome will once again partner with the housing authority in the application.