Greenville tenants face crisis as Section 8 vouchers no longer accepted

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 7:28 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - In early July, WITN reported on two people living in two Greenville apartment complexes. They said their leases were being terminated after their landlord stopped accepting Section 8 vouchers. Since airing the original story, we have learned that some of the tenants at Arlington West and Pecan Grove have been given other options for continuing their leases.

However, WITN is still committed to getting answers for tenants in these situations and others like it. We reached out to learn more about this challenge and what people’s options are if it happens to them. Here’s what we found out.

“A whole lot of pieces really have to come together in order for this to work,” Greenville Housing Authority Executive Director Wayman Williams said.

Bringing those pieces together is a job that often rests on the shoulders of the housing authority. Williams said the challenge in finding affordable housing options is faced nationwide. One of the more difficult aspects is finding landlords who accept Section 8 housing vouchers.

“We need more landlords,” Williams said. “Sometimes residents get a voucher and they’re not able to find a place within a reasonable time frame.”

Imagine, then, the frustration of finding out your landlord who once accepted your voucher no longer does, which is a story tenants at Arlington West and Pecan Grove in Greenville shared with WITN. However, that’s just one scenario among the many that Tommy Holderness, a supervising attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina in Charlotte, said tenants face regularly.

“It’s certainly happening to Section 8 people because the housing markets are crazy everywhere right now. But it’s also happening to people who aren’t on Section 8, who landlords used to give a little grace towards and work with them, and now if they’re on a lease that’s below market, landlords are using any excuse to up and evict them so they can get a new tenant at a higher rate,” Holderness explained.

So what can people do? Holderness said each situation is different, but people should make sure to find out what their rights are before they try to fight for themselves.

“We can either provide advice or, depending on where you are and people’s schedules and how many attorneys we have, we can actually go to court with you,” Holderness said.

He reminds anyone who has received notice to vacate to still pay their rent each month on time even if their situation is in flux.

Otherwise, you could be held responsible for missed payments. Holderness also said to make sure to pay rent by the 1st of each month, instead of the 5th. He said some people get confused and think that just because late fees don’t begin until the 6th of each month, the actual due date is still the 1st.

Holderness adds that there are “decent” protections for tenants legally, especially because it’s the landlord’s burden of proof to evict a tenant.

Legal Aid of North Carolina can only help certain people, mainly those considered low-income. If you qualify for their help, they offer it free of charge. Their number is 252-758-0113.

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