Low-Income workers in Denver are finding it challenging to obtain Section 8 Housing Vouchers. They’re finding it even more difficult to track down landlords that accept them.

section 8 condominium building

The program referred to as the “Housing Choice Voucher Program” – formerly identified simply as “Section 8” – is designed to assist tenants who are eligible to be provided with rental assistance. This is made possible by subsidizing a portion of the rent monies charged to the individual and the utilities associated with or included in the rent of the housing and then directly providing it to landlords.

If utilities are not included within the rent charged, a larger amount may be paid to the property owner for rent so that the tenant has the financial capability of covering their own utilities.

While deemed a worthwhile and productive initiative, many poor workers in Denver have a hard time getting the vouchers. Even worse – once obtained – they may experience an extremely hard time finding landlords that will accept them.

denver housing voucher program

Basic Requirements

The housing vouchers are provided to recipients who participate in a lottery-based system by applying online. The most basic requirements are as follows:

  1. First, the applicant must meet the eligibility requirements as set forth by the HUD program.
  2. If a person is registered as a sex offender or has been convicted of the manufacturing or the production of methamphetamine on any premises that are deemed “public housing”, they are not qualified to apply for the program.
  3. The applicant cannot have any evictions from any type of federal assistant housing programs within the past 5 year prior to their applying for the voucher program.
  4. The person applying for assistance must not owe any type of money to any of the already in place subsidized programs for housing.
  5. If the applicant was evicted for any type of criminal activity involving drugs in the previous 3 years before applying, they do not qualify for the program.
  6. The applicant must not exceed the guidelines that outline income.

Income Guidelines

According to the program, the guidelines regarding income are as follows:

  • For one person, income cannot exceed $32,500
  • For two people, the income cannot exceed $37,150
  • For a family of three, the income max is $41,800
  • For a four-person family, the income cannot be over $46,400
  • For five people, the income cap is $50,150
  • For six people, the income tops out at $53,850
  • For a family of seven, the income is $57,550
  • For a family of eight, the maximum income is $61,250

The Problems tenants face

According to information derived from various sources – such as The Denver Post – applicants have a difficult time obtaining a voucher. In fact, the annual lottery program provides applicants a 1-in-21 chance of receiving the voucher.

In many cases, the individuals that have applied wait several years before being approved – if they are approved at all. This makes it very hard for these persons to afford the rent prices in Denver. Even worse, once approved for the voucher, the winners of the lottery have a very hard time in finding landlords that will accept them. This is partly due to the fact if a landlord incurs financial losses, they are extremely difficult to recoup. Additionally, many landlords find the obligations of the program to be burdensome.

Problems Landlords run into

While landlord participation is a critical component of the housing voucher program, many find it hard to work with.

Teo Nicolais, for example, claims that one family caused over $10,000 worth of damage to his property. Because his tenant only paid a $500 deposit, he had to take out a credit card in order to fix his property so that it could be rented again. It is because when tenants do not have the money, they cannot obtain it and the money from the voucher program is protected against any type of lawsuit.

Richard Sturtevant, the owner of Pioneer Property Management, said recently to the Denver Post:

“Unfortunately, the Section 8 system is pretty cumbersome to work with. It is a challenge. We work with it when necessary.”

He further claims that he has done an immense amount of research to reach compliance with the voucher program, but many of the listings posted through his company still deny/forbid using the vouchers for the property.

Those listings are the ones that are single-properties. This type of property is still exempted from the recently released law that the State of Denver has in place.

Ultimately, landlords are hesitant to approve tenants that want to utilize the vouchers from the program.

One of the main reasons includes the fact that there are a number of inspections required of property owners that take part in the program. Additionally, landlords often find that payments are delayed. Also, when they experience financial losses due to damages incurred by tenants, they have a very hard time in reclaiming those costs.

All property owners agree that it is not the people that use the vouchers, it is the voucher process itself.

living in denver

Fair Market Pricing

The next issue associated with the vouchers is the fact that those that hold vouchers must find a rental housing unit that is deemed to be in the “fair market value”, according to the standards as set forth by the federal government. The program identifies this as “rent reasonableness market analysis”.

There are several factors that go into determining if a landlord is offering housing at fair market. Examples include the age of the unit, the type of home it is, the number of bathrooms, the actual year it was built, the square footage, and any amenities offered.

Not only does this hurt the search for tenants, but it hurts the income of landlords in an area that has some of the highest prices in the industry. Hopefully, by the next voucher lottery in 2020, the government on a federal, state, and city level in Denver will make the changes necessary to benefit all. For more housing information, visit: https://rentmedenver.com/property-management-tips/