Housing vouchers in Atlanta, like in many other U.S. cities, are often hard to secure and wait periods to even be considered for rental assistance programs can be extraordinarily lengthy. But today, Tuesday, Oct. 17 marks the opening of the Housing Choice Voucher Program which will help low-income families and people afford housing.
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has opened applications for the housing voucher program and will continue to accept them until midnight Oct. 20 or 11:59 p.m. to be precise.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, often referred to as Section 8 is one of HUD’s more successful housing assistance programs around the nation.
Here’s how the Housing Choice Voucher program generally works:
- Eligibility: To qualify for a housing voucher, individuals or families must meet certain income requirements set by the program. Eligibility is typically based on income, family size, and other factors.
- Application: To apply for a housing voucher in Atlanta, individuals or families must contact the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) or the local Public Housing Agency (PHA) that administers the program. The application process may involve providing documentation of income and other relevant information.
- Waiting List: Due to high demand and limited funding, there is often a waiting list for housing vouchers. Once you are determined to be eligible, you may be placed on a waiting list until a voucher becomes available.
- Voucher Issuance: When a voucher becomes available, the PHA will issue it to the eligible applicant. The voucher can be used to subsidize rent payments for a privately-owned rental property.
- Finding Housing: Voucher holders are responsible for finding suitable housing that meets program requirements, including meeting the program’s rent limits. The landlord must agree to participate in the program.
- Rent Calculation: The voucher program subsidizes a portion of the rent, with the tenant paying the rest. The amount of assistance is determined based on the family’s income and other factors.
- Inspections: The rental unit must meet certain standards to be eligible for the program. The PHA typically conducts inspections to ensure the unit is safe and habitable.
- Lease Agreement: Once a suitable rental unit is found and passes inspection, a lease agreement is signed between the tenant and the landlord.
- Monthly Payments: The PHA sends monthly payments directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant, covering a portion of the rent.
The Housing Choice Voucher programs aim to provide affordable housing options for low-income individuals and families. In Atlanta, the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) is the local agency responsible for administering housing voucher programs. Please note that program details and availability may change over time, so it’s essential to contact the AHA or the local PHA for the most up-to-date information on housing voucher programs in Atlanta.
District 5 Council member Liliana Bakhtiari who introduced legislation earlier this you with majority support from her Council colleagues to call upon residential housing developments receiving City subsidies or incentives to recognize house choice vouchers as fungible income to qualified participants. This would open quality and affordable housing options across Atlanta to very low-income families, the elderly, and disabled.
“At a time when rents are soaring, inflation is ballooning, and a fragile tenant support system is on the brink, we should be opening doors to responsible renters, not shutting them out,” Bakhtiari said. “This resolution goes beyond just beginning the conversation on how we can create access to housing for our community’s most vulnerable. It is an affirmative, results-oriented solution that understands the economics of the market and corrects a historic inequity. I applaud our private sector partners who are proactively reviewing their policies to comply with this resolution.”
- The average monthly rent in Atlanta has soared above $1,900, outpacing inflation and an increase of nearly 15 percent year-to-date; and
- Metro Atlanta received an influx of 65,000 people last year alone, with population gains in every county across the region; and
- The Department of City Planning’s Neighborhood Change Report found that growth in many neighborhoods is coupled with the displacement of low-income residents; and
- According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there are 162,000 households that qualify as low-income in Atlanta with only 43,000 units of those designated as affordable.
“The demand for housing has outpaced availability within the city for years,” District 4 Council member Jason S. Dozier said. “This led to the explosive housing market that we’ve been talking about where the average single-family home is selling for $400,000. This proposal opens funding streams to support residents without encumbering development and encourages an ecosystem for additional growth.”
“This is responsible and responsive governance,” Post 2 At-Large Council member Matt Westmoreland said. “By bringing together residents and stakeholders alike, we were able to arrive at a sensible solution that benefits all involved: voucher holders will have more housing options and developers will have a larger pool of viable applicants to fill vacant units.”
“The success of our city will be measured in the strength of our community’s most vulnerable,” District 10 Council member Andrea L. Boone said. “While we are experiencing a period of unprecedented economic growth, that prosperity can only be sustained if we invest in the practices that will ensure Atlanta remains a welcoming and livable place for all. The legislation introduced by my colleague, Council member Bakhtiari, will be instrumental in sustaining that brighter future for all.”
“The Atlanta BeltLine enthusiastically supports this game-changing legislation,” said Clyde Higgs, president and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine Inc. “We’ve seen an unprecedented level of growth on and around the BeltLine. While we continue to connect all 22 miles of the trail, it’s critical that the BeltLine and associated development remains accessible to all, regardless of their socioeconomic status.”
“As the largest housing authority in the state of Georgia responsible for more than 26,000 households and over 47,000 residents, we understand the urgency and severity of Atlanta’s housing crisis,” Eugene Jones Jr., president and CEO of Atlanta Housing, said. “Access to quality, affordable housing is a right that should be realized for all. This legislation recognizes that fact, and I thank the Atlanta City Council and Council member Bakhtiari for addressing the housing crisis head-on.”
“We welcome this legislation and thank Council member Bakhtiari and the Atlanta City Council for putting in the work and identifying a commonsense solution that allows more people to have greater access to safe, affordable, and reliable housing,” said Sarah-Elizabeth Langford, executive director of the Fulton County Development Authority. “It is a measure that is long overdue, and we eagerly await its adoption.”
“Expanding housing opportunities is fundamental in creating economic stability and prosperity for all Atlantans,” said Dr. Eloisa Klementich, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta. “This measure removes yet another barrier to access and supports those among us who need it most. I commend Council member Bakhtiari and her colleagues for their continued leadership in ensuring that Atlanta remains a vibrant and viable home to all.”
“This is a major step forward for renters and housing choice,” said Lindsey Siegel, director of housing advocacy at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. “This piece of legislation ensures that renters with vouchers – essentially government-guaranteed rent payments – can find safe and decent housing in neighborhoods across the city. What Council member Bakhtiari and the Atlanta City Council have proposed serves as a model for every community across the country.”
“Council member Bakhtiari’s proposition destigmatizes low-income earners and allows them to freely choose where to live,” said Michael Lucas, executive director of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation. “This fundamentally transforms the landscape of Atlanta’s housing market for the better, and thousands of residents will be better for it.”
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