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Allen Benedict Residents: How to handle your HUD voucher

The Columbia Housing Authority explains how the vouchers work for the 411 displaced residents

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.

RELATED: Residents won't be allowed to move back to Columbia apartments after life-threatening violations found 

Now, 411 residents are searching for permanent housing.

RELATED: Incident report reveals possible source of CO in Allen Benedict Court deaths

RELATED: Allen Benedict Court work orders show history of maintenance issues at deceased resident's apartment

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.

RELATED: Conditions 'severe and lethal' at Allen Benedict Court apartments, fire department says 

The program takes a family or individual’s yearly income, makes any necessary adjustments for disability or children, then calculates a monthly income.

RELATED: Coroner: Allen Benedict Court residents died from carbon monoxide poisoning

RELATED: 'My heart broke.' Daughter of man found dead at Allen Benedict apartments speaks out

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

                Working utilities

                Ceilings, walls, and floors in good condition...

                Working windows

                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