Author: Nathan Morabito
Published: 2:46 PM EDT August 30, 2019
Updated: 8:32 PM EDT August 30, 2019
Three months after an NBC Charlotte investigation exposed a major flaw in a federal housing program and suggested solutions, the Charlotte Housing Authority is now considering one of those solutions.
In just weeks, the CHA board will decide whether to give renters more time to use Housing Choice vouchers. The form of government assistance is meant to help people pay rent, but the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative discovered all too often, those vouchers expire before people can actually use them.
Under the current CHA policy, vouchers expire after 120 days. CHA records show in recent years, more than a third of vouchers expired before people in need could actually use them.
“Think about it 120 days to find it and there are some people who still can’t find people to accept their voucher,” CHA Senior Vice President of Public Relations Cheron Porter said. “They’re still finding it difficult and we’re doing what we can to help them find housing.”
The proposal would give people up to 180 days to use their vouchers, which would be an extension of an additional 60 days. Porter said “the difficulty families were having trying to find affordable housing” prompted the proposed change.
“We know the inventory is low and want to be supportive of those families really trying,” she said.
While some blame the problem on the lack of affordable units and the refusal by landlords to rent to people with vouchers, others blame it on the red tape that comes with the federal program. Regardless, the impact is the same, especially in a city where vouchers are already few and far between. As it stands, more than 13,000 are on CHA’s voucher waitlist.
Other housing authorities across the country give people more than 120 days and the extra time is shown to work. In San Diego, for example, people can ask for up to 420 days and there, records show only about one out of every 10 vouchers expire.
The CHA board is set to vote on the possible change at its September 17 meeting.