Adams County Housing Authority (ACHA) is seeking new landlords to participate in its Housing Choice Voucher program and is offering signing bonuses.
The program is the federal government’s major method for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. The program is sometimes referred to by its old name “Section 8.” Families or individuals with vouchers are able to select their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses, mobile homes, and apartments.
ACHA has been allotted 620 vouchers and around $3.1M in funding for assistance payments.
“We hope the bonuses will be an incentive for new landlords to participate so we can increase the number of available rental units for our voucher clients,” said ACHA executive director Stephanie McIlwee.
The grant from Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency allows for a one-time $500 signing bonus when a landlord enters into a new contract with the housing authority. Currently around 510 households in the county are using vouchers with around 180 property owners participating.
To help increase participation, the voucher program has added a preference for households who will lease-in-place with their vouchers. Applications submitted in this category will be selected from the waiting list more quickly, usually within 60 to 90 days.
LcIlwee said the preference has encouraged new landlords to join the program. “Landlords are willing to take a chance when they already know the tenant, and they know the tenant is struggling to pay rent,” she said.
The voucher family pays around 30% of their monthly income towards their rent and ACHA pays the difference directly to the landlord. If a tenant’s income should decrease, the housing subsidy would increase. McIlwee said the voucher program was incredibly helpful to both participants and landlords when the Covid pandemic caused layoffs. “Even when a tenant lost wages, the landlord still received the full monthly rent as the subsidy amount increased,” she aid.