Champaign County being asked for $1.14 million in funding to help boost affordable housing

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CHAMPAIGN — The Housing Authority of Champaign County has asked the county for $1.14 million to help boost affordable housing options in the community and make it easier for low-income residents to be placed in homes.

To be considered by the county board Thursday is a package of funding requests from the housing authority, including:

  • $650,000 to renovate existing emergency shelter apartments for families.
  • $300,000 for supportive services.
  • $170,000 to offer landlords incentives to rent to tenants with Housing Choice Program Section 8 vouchers.
  • $25,000 to reimburse landlords for damage done by tenants.

The county has budgeted $1 million of its American Rescue Plan Act funding for affordable housing in the current year, but only $500,000 to $750,000 of it is unallocated, according to County Executive Darlene Kloeppel.

If the board approves housing authority projects to fund with ARPA money, the next step would be coming up with an intergovernmental agreement between the county and housing authority, she said.

The two 12-unit Maple Grove apartment buildings at 302-306 E. Park St., C, that serve as emergency shelters for families were built in the 1960s and are currently in disrepair, said Lily Walton, executive director of the housing authority.

They need repairs to their HVAC systems and roofs, plus floors and ceilings due to water leaks, and upgrades to windows in the bedrooms, she said.

The $300,000 worth of supportive services the housing authority is seeking for its clients are intended to help with such costs as application fees, security deposits, transportation, moving, furniture, phone minute cards and past-due utility bills, plus assistance locating critical documents such as birth certificates and social security cards.

Help with all these things has the potential to get more low-income clients into homes faster, Walton said. For instance, she said, a landlord might have a $50 application fee, and prospective tenants applying to more than one apartment would quickly find multiple application fees unaffordable.

The housing authority anticipates 200 moves this year and the $300,000 requested would fund $1,500 worth of supportive services per resident move-in, she said.

The housing authority is already offering a federally funded $1,000 incentive to landlords per lease under an Emergency Housing Voucher program, and has seen that increase the success of getting people who are homeless, at risk of being homeless and those with a record of being evicted into homes, Walton said.

Using some of the county’s ARPA funds to expand the housing authority’s landlord incentives could increase housing opportunities for Section 8 voucher participants while helping support landlords who experienced hardships through the eviction moratorium, she said.

While the list of requests exceeds the county’s available funding for affordable housing this year, Walton said her top priority would be getting the emergency family shelter apartments repaired, followed by incentives for landlords, “because that’s the easiest way to get people housed,” she said.

“I’m glad that the county is investing in affordable housing, and I think this is one of the most strategic ways they can do it,” she said.

via The News-Gazette

April 19, 2022 at 08:40AM

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