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Landlords urged to add low-income units in Nye County

As nearly anyone in the Housing Choice Voucher program in Nye County can attest, obtaining a housing voucher is just one part of the puzzle and what comes next is often the real challenge. Once awarded a voucher, residents only have a short amount of time to locate a qualified rental. With limited numbers of such local properties, it can take years for people to finally find an affordable place to call home.

The Nevada Rural Housing Authority (NRHA) wants landlords to know they can make a big difference in the lives of those who are struggling by having their rental units designated for the program. Not only will this be an advantage to the community and its residents, the landlords themselves will see benefits too.

During the Tuesday, Aug. 16 meeting of the Nye County Commission, Kevin Hickey, a business development specialist with the NRHA, provided an overview of the current status of the Housing Choice Voucher Program in Nye County.

The Housing Choice Voucher program, better known as Section 8, provides rental assistance to low-income individuals and families, as well as the disabled, seniors and veterans. Depending on their income, program participants can have varying portions of their rent subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

“NRHA was created in 1973 by Nevada Revised Statute to administer the HCV (Housing Choice Voucher) program for the 15 rural counties in Nevada, which excludes Clark and Washoe counties,” Hickey explained. “All funding for the HCV program comes from HUD based on federal allocations. The NRHA has 1,490 vouchers that are allocated to us to administer and these vouchers can be used in any of the 15 counties, and are not assigned based on county.”

Housing Choice Vouchers are awarded by a lottery system, with no preference given to any particular demographic, Hickey noted. Those enrolled in the program must simply wait for their name to be drawn and when that happens, the countdown is on.

“It’s up to them to find a property that will accept the Housing Choice Voucher. They generally have 60 days to find that property but it can be as many as 180,” Hickey stated, later adding, “There is never enough availability and some people just fall out of the program.”

At this time, Hickey detailed that Nye County has 256 households enrolled under Housing Choice Voucher program, which is the second largest utilization in rural Nevada, coming in behind Carson City. However, there are only 14 eligible properties, those designated as available for Section 8, listed for all of Nye County, leaving a huge gap to bridge.

“Part of our challenge is to get the word out there that our program is a good program,” Hickey said. He acknowledged that there can be negative connotations associated with Section 8 housing but he felt it important that landlords know there are plenty of protections built into the program, as well as benefits for those willing to accept the vouchers.

“We would encourage the board here and anyone in the Nye County community to help spread the word about the opportunities of the program. There are benefits to landlords accepting voucher holders,” Hickey stated. “They include: guaranteed income each month from NRHA; regular inspection of tenant units to identify potential issues; the program requires tenants to maintain their unit, abide by their lease and pay their portion of the rent timely to stay in the program; and support from the NRHA staff on program and lease compliance for landlords; also, helping promote opportunities for all rural Nevadans to find a place to call home.”

Anyone interested in having their rental property designated as eligible for the Housing Choice Program is encouraged to visit www.NVRural.org or call 775-887-1795 for more information.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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