Who’s benefiting from the housing bust? Subsidized tenants
Landlords woo folks on government aid to fill empty homes — and in some cases, vacant upscale properties.
In neighborhoods such as this one in Henderson, Nev., landlords are turning to Section 8 recipients to fill vacant homes. // © Bloomberg/Getty Images
HENDERSON, Nev. — When Shawnetta Newburn left her drug-infested St. Louis neighborhood in search of a better life for her family in Las Vegas, she didn’t expect to live in a house with frills worthy of a McMansion.
But Paradise awaited.
That’s the name of the gated community where Newburn, a single mother who makes $10.50 an hour as a pawn-shop cashier, rents a three-bedroom townhouse with soaring ceilings, a gas-fueled fireplace and an oversize walk-in closet in the largest bedroom. The master bath even includes an enclosed toilet room, a feature popular in mini-mansions.
“The only time I ever saw that was on TV or something,” she says during a tour of the approximately 2,000-square-foot home. “I never thought I’d have anything like this.”
Her previous apartment in St. Louis resembled public housing, she says, and her three sons were crammed into one bedroom. After her refrigerator caught fire, her landlord replaced it with an outdated brown model. She now has gleaming, white appliances.
The houses in Paradise, a community in Henderson, are typical of the upgraded homes some tenants rent using a government subsidy.
Newburn can thank the housing bust. She participates in a government program for low-income families that subsidizes about half of her $1,400 monthly rent. The program, known as Section 8, has for decades put families in functional but basic homes and apartments, sometimes in less-than-desirable communities.
But overbuilding during the housing boom has left so many homes available that landlords, desperate for renters, are wooing Section 8 recipients. These renters’ government subsidies, delivered electronically, guarantee the landlord gets paid. As a result, Section 8 recipients suddenly have a housing smorgasbord.
Plenty of average housing stock remains in many places. But in certain markets, there are also more upscale selections. On GoSection8.com, landlords nationwide tout boom-era showpieces — replete with “great rooms,” backyard swimming pools and built-in stainless-steel barbecue grills — that once sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Las Vegas has been one of the nation’s hardest-hit real-estate markets.
Some renters are getting pickier.
“More and more, I’m seeing tenants turn down places,” says Arman Davtyan, owner of seven Las Vegas properties rented to Section 8 tenants.
Instead, they’re going for “another property that’s either bigger or in a better area or has more bedrooms,” he says. “Before, they tended to take whatever they could get.”
Although some neighbors have long contended that government-subsidized tenants increase crime and depress property values, some now say that having a house occupied is better than leaving it vacant, which attracts vandalism and other problems.
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In Antioch, Calif., a San Francisco bedroom community where the number of Section 8 listings has skyrocketed in recent years, residents have mixed emotions about the new tenants.
“I would concede, I wouldn’t be happy with an empty house,” says Walter Ruehlig, a longtime Antioch resident. “It’s kind of like, ‘What poison do you choose?’”
But resident Natalie Wilson says Section 8 tenants brought big changes to Antioch, including fights, loud parties and litter. She helped launch a neighborhood-watch program.
“If a block has five Section 8 homes, are you going to want to move into that neighborhood? No,” says Wilson, who works as a middle-school registrar. “You don’t want to live next to a Section 8 house.”
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Tensions have run high in Antioch. Section 8 tenants complained they were harassed by police and filed a federal lawsuit in 2008, which is still winding through the courts.
In Paradise, officially known as Paradise Court, relations between neighbors are more peaceful, Newburn says. Kye Jensen, owner of a townhome behind Newburn, says a concern is how any renters will affect property values.
What makes this article worse is the fact that students aren't allowed to get Section 8. Why? I don't know, but they sure are entitled to it, especially because students go out after graduation and W-O-R-K. What is wrong with this country? We don't want to invest in our future, but put money into things that will draw us backward? Honestly if it weren't for the fact that I have lived here my whole life, I would have immigrated to another country. This place is a** backwards. Screw democratic ideals, what's mine is mine, not yours or the government's.
I am ALL for the safety net, it's the flippin' hammock that I'm against.
I hope Mr Obama reads these comments..........especially comments like>> Da max fools
i would love to know what ailes Ginny. 12 years is a long long time. Are you weighing
a ton and cant get out of the house???. If you can own a computer and write such
a lenghty letter then sorry, you can work. There are many in-home jobs you could take online courses for. There are lots of sit down/jobs you could have found over 12 years.Granted jobs are harder to find now but 12 years?????????????????????.Like i said you must be ailing pretty bad...........So get well soon..............
I paid my own student loans for years to get an engineering degree, and still couldn't afford to live where these welfare moms live! DEADBEATS! Whenever I've been broke, I've had to adjust my standard of living until I got a better job - Maybe if I didn't pay so much in taxes supporting your pitiful junk, I could've afforded to live there too! Or maybe, I just should've squirted out some kids?
Our tax dollars only seem to go a welfare state! Funny, I was taught not to have children I couldn't afford to support... and to get a job if I wanted something... and that our votes meant we had a say... Yeah, welcome to the new "vision for change" America.
I am a single (divorced) mother with a 6 year old child. I work 50 hours a week and pay ALL of my $1200 a month rent. I cannot afford to go to school to finsh my bachelors or to get my MBA. I also do not qualify for Section 8 because I am divorced, not a mother out-of-wedlock, and I am not a minority. Why the HELL should I have to work to pay your rent?
Yippee to you that you pay your own electric - I pay my own electric, gas, trash, sewer, insurance, car note, you name it. Your air conditioning is broke in an apartment you pay less than half for? Tough. I live in Georgia (not exactly the coolest part of the country in the summer) and my air works fine. At least I think it does - I have not been able to afford to turn it on in two years.
You have been on the program 3 years and hope to be off it in 4? I would love to have seen you off it in 1. Tell you what, I will give up my full time job and go to school, and you can quit school and work full time + to support me and my kid. Hey, maybe it is time for ME to better myself. Why not cut out the middle man - you can send 1/3 of your paycheck directly to me every week. Oh, and don't think that this will give you any say in how I decided to spend the money.
It's a shame how people have lost all pride nowadays. You can spot the baby mamma types in Wal-Mart so easily. They don't even have enough pride to change out of their pajamas and slippers when they go shopping. The studs dress sloppily and wear their slippers, too. They don't even put their feet all the way in their slippers and walk on the heels of them. The baby mammas use their EBT (Food stamp/cash assistance) cards as if they were proud cardholders of Visa Black or American Express Gold Cards. The EBT cards are almost indistinguishable from a credit card anyway. They use the cash assistance that they can access at bank ATM machines to buy huge 24" shiny chrome wheels for their gas guzzling SUVs. They use the cash assistance to make the payments on those SUVs, too. They have babies one immediately after the other so they can apply and get increased food stamp and cash assistance benefits and three or four bedroom homes instead of the two bedroom home they are in. A lot of the time, they have no idea who the fathers of their babies are because it doesn't matter to them and they may have had multiple partners at the same time the night they conceived anyway. It doesn't matter to them who the daddies are, just so they have the children and get the benefits. They make a life out of living off the government and become experts at manipulating the system. The government ought to hire some of them to catch the manipulators and cheats because they'd be good at it and at least they would have jobs. My, how the morals of our society have declined into the pits of Hell. Anything goes nowadays! The more you cheat, the more you are rewarded! They can all go to Hell as far as this hard-working, honest, law-obeying proud but outdated American is concerned! I'm only 51 years of age but I don't recognize this country anymore!
I am a single parent who participates in the Housing Choice Voucher program. I have 3 kids and 2 are grown away in college with academic scholarships. It is very ignorant to stereotype people because they participate in the program. I am aware that some people take advantage of the program. I am also aware that the government doesn't tell US citizens the truth about how tax dollars are being spent.
One bad apple can spoil a barrel of good apples. I been on the program for almost 3 years and hope to be off before the fourth year. I work part time and go to school full time. Being in the program benefited me in earning a bachelor's degree in business. I am hoping that my application at my place of employment gets me approved for a full time and higher paying job. In the meantime, I been considering going for my MBA once I become full time at work, or if not look elsewhere. Some landlords take on the housing choice voucher for money and are able to increase the rent beyond what it is worth, while others take it for different reasons. My rent is $695 and I pay $300 of it and HUD pays the rest.
I am also responsible for my own electric, while the landlord pays the water/trash/sewer/gas/electric, for the outer part of the 6 unit apartment building. I pay my rent/bills on time. I've had a bad experience with this landlord. I am very clean, and nifty when it comes to cleanliness of the apartment inside and out. During my residency at the apartment, the landlord failed to upkeep his responsibilities stated in the lease and the contract he signed with the housing choice program. Water was shut off, electricity, and gas. The apartments come with 2 air conditioners which are installed in the wall of the master bedroom and the living room. The air conditioners needed repair because they were old and no longer blew out cool air (now keep in mind, I never failed an inspection). Also, the lease states that I'm not allowed to buy an air conditioner for any of the windows.
Now can you tell me what's wrong with that picture? Some may argue that I shouldn't get upset because I'm not paying full rent anyway. But I ask myself, if prisoner's have rights, why shouldn't I? Who do you think support prisoners? I understand how upsetting it is when a housing choice participant lives in a nicer home that a taxpayer can't afford. I know that many caseworkers gossip about the laziness of some.
I once told a caseworker that if she can eliminate all the people (majority she claims) that abuses the housing choice voucher, do she think that many of their caseworkers will also lose their jobs? I honestly believe that some caseworkers purposely not interested in setting a goal sheet with many of their clients to achieve self sufficiency due to the guarantee of employment.
A lot of people need to comprehend that just because someone gets assistance or lives in a poor neighborhood doesn't always mean they're uneducated. Each and everyone has a situation majority don't know about, and your assumptions shows ignorance. I'm an african american woman, and many many years ago, many white families would have been proud for me to live in their home and work for them, take care of their children even nurse their babies (read your history). Now many white families is scared out of their wits to have to call me neighbor.
It's a lot of negativity going on in the economy, but in my opinion, the poor low-income (any race) and deficient neighbors gets the most criticism.
"Sometimes a leader do things to keep his people blurred from seeing the big picture"
2. Participant doesn't get what s/he wants when s/he wants it to happen = caseworker isn't doing his/her job. For some reason, people don't seem to understand that there is policy and rules to follow and there's a process for everything. You try managing a caseload of over 600 people --half of these people calling you day after day each wanting something different and wanting their problem resolved right that minute.
3. Alot of people claim to be shut down by landlords because of Section 8 stigma...you have to understand some places just simply don't work with Housing. It's not really that they're shutting you out because of the program you're on.
4. You don't "own" a voucher in any shape, way, or form. Unfortunately (or not), a voucher can be revoked at any given moment if you housing authority encounters some sort of financial deficit or if any family obligation is broken.
I am on the Housing Voucher program and have been for almost 10 years. The Housing Department no longer uses the term Section 8. Everyone is considered to be on a Housing Voucher. I feel this has happened because of the stigma of Section 8 renters.
For the most part I agree with what everyone is saying here. Even though I am on the Voucher program I would never want to live in a Section 8 housing development, I've seen them and it would scare the hell out of me living in those places.
If I could only find a place such as that lady found I would be in seventh heaven. I'm a Housing Voucher horse of a different color. Before I ended up on housing I had lived in a brand new home, from there a newer townhouse and am/was used to living in that way. The reason I ended up on housing was not because I was lazy, didn't want to work or was a low life (as you all have stated). My reason was that I (and my then 16 year old son) were homeless, by no choice of my own. Also, I am disabled and have been on SSDI for the last 12 years. If I could work I'd do it in a heartbeat. I live off of my SSDI with no other income so I do qualify for Medicaid and food stamps. Try living off of $751 per month and the last 2 years there has not been a cost of living increase in my disability which used to amount to about $30 a year.
Because of the Section 8 people which you have described, I too am treated with that same stigma. They make me look bad and I suffer for it through no fault of my own. There are tons of apartments for rent nearby but as soon as the landlord hears the words Section 8 or Housing Voucher, they slam the door in my face. Usually, I don't even get a chance to meet the landlord because of this therefore they refuse me.
The building I live in now and have for 12 years is what I consider slumming it. In the 5 apartments in this building, over the years, I have seen and dealt with the alcoholic's, drug users, aggressive yellers, the batterers and the beaten (yes, kids included), the break-in's, stealers (my check was taken from my unsecured mailbox(locks not allowed), etc.. I've been through 2 landlords and both were/are 'slumlords.' My apartment is on the 3rd floor (that's 33 steps) I must use to get out. Being as both of my knees need replacing now climbing the stairs is a nightmare for me......BUT even though I've tried to get my caseworker to help me get out of here, she, like the majority of caseworkers at Housing doesn't care to work. All she continues to do is send me 14 pages of paperwork every three months to fill out. Something the people here may not know is that it takes 3 months to get approved to move. Being as it takes so long there are not many landlords who are willing to wait, so again the door is slammed in my face. At this point (due to my disabilities)I am unable to get out and about to find a new place to live. A few times I tried realtors but they certainly don't want to waste their time on someone who is on a Housing Voucher as they know landlords are just unwilling to accept it due to those people you speak of.
Even though I am a proud owner (meaning I'm very thankful & grateful) of a Housing Voucher I'm shot down before I even get a chance to begin, which is due to the narrow-mindedness of you all putting us all in the same category. It is unfair to me and people like me. We are all not scum of the earth, drinking, drugging, slobs who would rather stay on Section 8 and Welfare for the free ride. Between the Housing Department and the blanketed/overall consensus of people like you...I don't stand a chance in hell of ever getting out of this scum-sucking apartment building.
Its a sad day when welfare trash live better than many hard working Americans that pay their bills, taxes, and their own way in life.
I've been a contractor working in Government assisted homes, that were much nicer than anything I've ever lived in. Its wrong.
To top it off these people are proud of it! Disgusting.
But there is one thing they lack. That class of people will never feel pride of ownership and accomplishment from hard work and self sufficiency.
Its one thing to take a helping hand for a short time, maybe not ideal but understandable to an extent, but too many of these people adopt this lifestyle and never leave it.
I think this program should have a certain time limit for its participants who are not elderly or disabled. I've had people tell me "I've been on housing since 1984!" and they say it with a sense of pride...which I don't quite understand why. It should be limited to 5 years at max which I think is more than enough time to get your life together and stabilize yourself and family. People never look to improve their life because they always have the Section 8 net to fall on.
Money for cable TV and multiple pets and to keep adding to the piles of beer cans in the yard along with ample other trash subsidized by taxpayers.
What a sick society We, the People, live within.
Stop the planet, I want to jump off.