Mayors Mark Kleinschmidt of Chapel Hill and Lydia Lavelle of Carrboro joined forces this week to ask local landlords to do the right thing, and accept Housing Choice Vouchers from low-income residents.
The mayors held a news conference at Carrboro Town Commons on Tuesday to address the issue of landlords refusing the vouchers, as rents continue to rise in both communities.
Kleinschmidt spoke to WCHL’s Aaron Keck on Thursday about the growing problem.
“Complexes are now saying that they aren’t going to take them anymore,” said Kleinschmidt. “Now that they’re renovating and they can charge higher rents, they’re saying, ‘You’ve got to find someplace else to live.’ And this is causing a housing crisis for dozens of families and individuals in both our communities, and throughout Orange County.”
Kleinschmidt said that more then 600 families in Orange County rely on the vouchers, which come from the federal HUD program and are administered by the county government.
In Chapel Hill and Carrboro, about 60 tenants have lost their apartments since last summer because of new rental policies.
”We need landlords –and not just owners of apartment complexes – to step up and learn about the Housing Choice Vouchers and understand that they can take them in lieu of cash payments,” said Kleinschmidt. “In fact, being a landlord who gets a Hosing Choice Voucher as part of a rent payment is actually more reliable than any other way of getting payment.”
That’s because the payment is deposited, like clockwork, directly into the landlord’s account every month, he added.
Kleinschmidt told WCHL that he and Lavelle will keep up their efforts to promote affordable housing, by having private meetings with local landlords and apartment building managers.
Chapel Hill’s mayor also pointed out that police officers and teachers are among the types of citizens that often qualify for the vouchers.