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Phoenix residents facing homelessness as complex phases out Section 8 Vouchers

Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 08:24:12-05

Their rent has been paid on time through the pandemic, but tenants say they are being told they will have to go when their lease expires. The apartment complex that they live in will no longer be accepting Section 8 vouchers.

"That was my worst fear, you know, of being homeless again," said Kiyana.

She says once her lease is up in November, it's a real possibility that she could end up on the streets again.

She says the Belcourt Apartments, now advertised as Ellis Midtown, is phasing out Section 8 Housing Vouchers.

These vouchers cover a portion of the rent for low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled. The tenant then pays the rest based on their income.

"You got people that's been here 24-plus years, 30 years. And they're elderly, you know, some of them don't even have family, let alone, you know, the means for transportation to go look, some of them don't have internet access. What are these people supposed to do?" said Kiyana, who has a neighbor who is 80 and insulin-dependent.

They have to be out by March 1 and tell us they have plans to buy a sleeping bag and a tent to use on the streets.

Kiyana and her neighbor's stories are not isolated cases. Landlords across the Valley are opting for higher rents over guaranteed, but lower payment through Section 8.

We reached out to Chamberlin and Associates who manages Kiyana's apartment complex to see if this was the case, but they did not get back to us.

"Unfortunately, there are situations that we're seeing where investors or, you know, outside entities are coming in purchasing complexes, and choosing to no longer rent to Section Eight voucher holders," said Elenia Sotelo, a housing manager with the City of Phoenix.

She says the city's voucher program has to follow federal HUD guidelines for how much rent a voucher can cover. So, keeping up with increasing rents is a challenge.

"We know that the rental market, not just in Phoenix but a lot of cities across the country are facing an influx have renters looking for places to live in," said Sotelo.

She says they are focused on finding more landlords who want to work with section 8 recipients through their landlord incentive program. It offers a bonus to any landlord who signs a new lease accepting Section 8 including returning landlords.

"Our voucher holders are very stable tenants and will continue at a unit, at a home for many years at a time. And so those are all benefits to the program," said Sotelo.

The city says for the month of February 6,300 vouchers were paid out while 475 are pending as people search for housing.

Now on Feb. 16, the Phoenix City Council voted unanimously to increase that Landlord Incentive amount from $500 to $2,000 with the hope to get more properties available to people like Kiyana and her neighbors.