Many local officials in both Texas and Oklahoma are working together in order to offer housing vouchers for residents in Houston who are low-income get affordable housing after losing their homes or getting their homes ruined from Hurricane Harvey. The flooding had also ruined most of the limited options in affordable housing that were available in the area as well.
Recently, the Housing Authority in Houston was informed that the Housing Authority in Oklahoma City was going to provide lots of vouchers to people within the Houston area. These vouchers could be used for renting houses in the Houston area or in another city. This is good news because the Houston Housing Authority has been facing a shortfall in funding which prompted them to stop giving out their own vouchers back in April. Officials with the department have mentioned that there are not enough public housing units in the Houston area for all the tenants who need them.
The heavy rains that continued after Hurricane Harvey caused damage to many properties owned by the Housing Authority in Houston. This affected over 900 Houston families. This voucher program was also known as Section 8. The program gets its funding through federal help in order to offer rental housing for an affordable price within the private market for low-income individuals.
The vouchers are typically available to help these families pay for some or all of their rent and other locations because all of the housing units in the Houston Housing Authority's area are completely full. When the Houston Housing Authority began to realize they were short on funds, they decided to reach out to many other housing authorities across the U.S. in order to see if their budgets would be able to help in the Houston area. The Housing Authority in Oklahoma was the first to respond and offer vouchers.
The executive director of the Housing Authority in Oklahoma City said that they were ready and willing to do whatever necessary to help their Texas neighbors fully recover after the hurricane. They believe they would be able to help them on a temporary basis as well as a more permanent basis. Even though Oklahoma City has their own waiting list for families who are waiting for vouchers, the families who were flooded by Hurricane Harvey got moved up the list because their area was declared a disaster zone. Typically, any vouchers given out by the housing authority must be used in the area in which they were issued. However, if the supplying housing authority fully agrees, they may be used in other locations as well.
This is not the first time officials from the housing authority in Oklahoma have offered this type of help. After Hurricane Katrina, many residents brought their vouchers from New Orleans to Oklahoma City and were able to use them after being put out by the storm. The current expectation suggests that Oklahoma City is going to be paying for these vouchers. Many of these vouchers offer up to $600 each month in rental assistance. They are expected to cover these vouchers through December, with Houston taking over at the start of 2018.
Many of the other social services departments which serve low-income individuals in Oklahoma are funded using money from the state. Unfortunately, Oklahoma is starting to face many budget cuts while lawmakers are working to find ways to make up for a $215 million dollar hole in the budget which may affect Medicaid, substance abuse services, mental health services and health care for senior citizens.
Some residents in the Houston area are happy to receive the help of the voucher system after the storm damaged their homes. However, it can be difficult to find privately owned apartment complexes which will accept those vouchers. The Housing Authority in Houston is working with the apartment association of Houston as well as local landlords in the area to help find apartments for families who have been displaced by the storm.
The Houston area has seven properties owned by the Housing Authority. They use their funds from federal help to offer affordable housing to the 58,000 residents who are low-income. Out of all of the low-income residents in the area, most of the families living on the seven properties received the help that they needed after the storm hit. However, there was at least 84 families living in a town-home complex which received severe damage and were still waiting for help. With the lack of budget funds, the housing authority was having trouble figuring out how to find them new places to live. The help in which they received from the Oklahoma City Housing Authority was much appreciated and couldn't have come at a better time.