Looking through the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem’s meeting notes recently, I noticed the frank language HAWS used to describe its Housing Choice Voucher program, also referred to as Section 8. HAWS’ November 8, 2022, minutes tell the story of a housing voucher program that is difficult for people to obtain and difficult for them to use.
There are not enough landlords participating in the program, despite HAWS increasing its compensation to landlords. And a significant portion of the Section 8 landlords HAWS has partnered with aren’t properly maintaining their properties. HAWS’ staff and board members see the program’s bad numbers as a negative factor that may cause them to lose out on grant opportunities. They don’t appear to be shedding any tears for voucher holders searching for housing that doesn’t exist.
The failure of housing vouchers is a vivid reminder that vouchers are not a substitute for public housing. We desperately need as a nation to recommit to public housing, but not the mediocre public housing of old. We need high-quality, dare I say, “innovative” public housing that meets the needs of individuals and families today.
HAWS Board JAN 2023 Packet-1
November HAWS Meeting Notes
“We currently have 3,464 vouchers that are leased, out of our allotment of 4,499. We have 628 families that have a voucher in hand right now and they are searching for housing. Twenty-five individual families were removed from the program in September. We still have 934 families remaining on our waiting list to obtain a voucher.” -Kelly Church
“We can’t lease these darn vouchers. We got 628 people looking for housing, now, with a voucher in their hand. They just can’t find housing. So again, the utilization rate is trending up, but you know we’re just nowhere near the number that we need.” -Kevin Cheshire
Section 8 Owners Packet-2019
HAWS’ recently increased rates for Section 8 property owners. They are paying a lot of money for units that are often poorly maintained. pic.twitter.com/xTFxLCHVQa
— Winston Watchman (@WinstonWatchman) November 12, 2021