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Shortage of Section 8 housing leaves many with few options

Published: Oct. 10, 2021 at 12:47 PM CDT
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - A shortage of low-income housing in the Decatur area has gotten much worse in recent months, according to our news partners at the Decatur Daily.

Taura Denmon, director of the Decatur Housing Authority, says the problem is landlords who are refusing to participate in the program.

“I’ve never seen this before,” Denmon told the Decatur Daily. “I’ve been in housing right at 15 years, and this is brand new.”

Section 8 housing uses a voucher system that low-income tenants pay 30% of their monthly income toward rent, the Decatur Housing Authority pays the remaining balance directly to the landlord.

“We’re trying to think of ways outside the box to entice landlords to at least come and listen to what we have to say about how the program works,” Denmon said. “Every day, that’s a topic of conversation here: What can we do to appeal to more landlords? We haven’t quite gotten there yet.”

Denmon said there are 500-600 people on the waiting list for Section 8 housing and the authority has not accepted voucher applications from prospective tenants for almost a year.

Denmon said she does not understand why so many landlords are unwilling to accept the vouchers.

Sarah Taggart, a Huntsville-based lawyer, said there are several reasons property owners are reluctant to participate in the program. Part of the problem is the robust economy in north Alabama.

“We’re in a really competitive rental market right now. There’s a lot of competition for available vacancies,” she told the Decatur Daily. “There’s not really a need for a lot of private landlords to participate in the program because they can get the rent without having to bring in that third party (a housing authority).”

If you would like to read more about this story, you can visit the Decatur Daily’s website here.

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