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Grant to help county families pay rent

Ten Lawrence County families will soon get help with rent payments.

Thursday, August 02, 2001

Ten Lawrence County families will soon get help with rent payments.

The Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority is receiving $28,777 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher program, formerly known as Section 8 Vouchers.

Both the Housing Authority and the Lawrence County Community Action Organization (CAO) participate in this federally funded program.

"People just don’t realize what a great need there is," Elaine Payne, CAO program operations officer/section eight coordinator, said. "There are a lot of homeless in the county."

Payne said between five and eight people ask the CAO for housing assistance each day.

She added that she thinks the voucher program is rewarding and makes a difference for people in need.

Through this program, funding is allocated for those accepted by the Public Housing Authorities. Families find acceptable rental housing and the vouchers, which are distributed through the local agencies, pay part of the cost of rent.

The recipients of these vouchers will be chosen from a waiting list of approved applicants, Ruth A. Stewart of the Housing Authority said. Approximately 70 Lawrence Countians are currently on the list, she added.

The Housing Authority already supplies 50 vouchers. The CAO supplies 130 vouchers and has a waiting list of approximately 120 names.

Nationwide, 79,000 new vouchers were provided, and 3,266 are being distributed in Ohio.

Those interested in receiving vouchers must apply through the local organizations. The recipients are selected based on total family income and family size.

Generally, a family’s income may not exceed 50 percent of the county’s median income and, by law, Public Housing Authorities must provide 75 percent of their vouchers to families whose income are 30 percent less than the area’s median income.

The vouchers are reevaluated by HUD each year for renewal.

The waiting lists for these vouchers have increased in recent years because housing prices are increasing faster than wages, according to a news release issued by HUD.

The CAO’s vouchers are funded through the Portsmouth Housing Authority and have slightly different requirements. For these vouchers, applicants must make a service agreement, Payne said. For example, if a person does not have a high school diploma, he or she must agree to pursue a GED to receive the voucher.

Lawrence County’s welfare department also has a housing assistance program.