COLUMBIA, S.C. — With 411 Allen Benedict Court residents still looking for housing, WLTX spoke to the head of the voucher program about how the system is working for the displaced residents and why she says they need more help.
Two residents died at the ABC complex on January 17th due to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Richland County coroner.
The ABC property was deemed unsafe for residents on January 18th. Later, the city and Columbia Housing Authority said it would be unsafe for any residents to return, effectively shuttering the property for good.
Now, 411 residents are searching for permanent housing.
The CHA is giving all of them vouchers for Section 8 housing. They also can choose to remain in public housing.
Housing Choice Voucher Program director Ramonda Pollard explains how it works.
“So, voucher holders are responsible for 30 percent of their monthly adjusted income, that's the portion they would pay to the landlord,” Pollard said over the phone on Wednesday.
The program takes a family or individual’s yearly income, makes any necessary adjustments for disability or children, then calculates a monthly income.
Once that monthly income is calculated, 30 percent of it is deemed the tenant’s payment responsibility for Section 8 housing.
Voucher holders can redeem their voucher at any participating complex in Richland County.
Pollard says about 700 to 1,000 landlords participate in Section 8 programs in the county.
But, she said after the displacement of 411 people they need more.
“The message that we wanted to get out to landlords is if there's any landlords who have safe, decent and affordable housing, or units, that they're willing to rent, please give us a call so that we can put them in contact with our voucher holders,” Pollard told WLTX.
The Housing Authority said some of the landlords have been present at information sessions, so they can immediately connect with residents.
Once someone picks a property, Pollard said the CHA requires inspections to make sure it is safe, decent, sanitary and also fairly priced.
For the Allen Benedict residents, Pollard said they're offering additional assistance not usually offered to Section 8 applicants.
“In an effort to decrease the burden on the families, the CHA is offering one month rent with the security deposits,” Pollard said.
The housing vouchers last 60 days under HUD rules. Pollard said after 60 days, voucher holders can ask for a new one.
HUD rules say properties rented with a voucher must meet certain standards.
Those standards include, but are not limited to:
An apartment must have a living room, kitchen, and bathroom
Ceilings, walls, and floors in good condition...
Functioning appliances in the kitchen and bathrooms
Working smoke detectors, water heaters, and heating systems
Two working outlets in each room or an outlet and overhead light
Handrails and guardrails for stairs and porches, if required