Odessa Housing Authority Seeking Help To Solve Current Housing Dilemma 1/2/13
CBS 7 News Reporter
January 2, 2013
ODESSA, TX - The housing authorities in Odessa are battling the housing crisis and trying to stop problems from 2012 from happening again in 2013.
The availability of housing in the Basin is hitting an all time low.
“In a situation like this, $12,000 for something that's worth $800… $1600 for something that's worth $1,000…that's taking advantage of people that obviously need money pretty badly of here moving to Midland for jobs. They came from somewhere else that did have them” Curtis Medlock, new resident of West Texas.
“The supply and demand is terrible. The housing authority or the people who are in charge in the city should do something to help people out,” said Odessan Victor Garcia.
Those officials trying to solve the problem are facing a dilemma themselves.
“There’s just not affordable housing out there that our clients can afford to go out and get," said Bernadine Spears, Executive Director of Housing Authority of The City of Odessa.
The Housing Authority of The City of Odessa's " section 8 voucher program" is designed to be a revolving door. It’s set up to get low-income families in and pay a portion of their rent. Then once they're back on their feet; they're out of the program.
But this system is hitting roadblocks.
Landlords have rented out majority of properties and rent rates have skyrocketed; which is beyond the current standards the housing authority is able to provide.
"What happens is when they come in and apply, they maybe eligible for our program…but when they get out in the open market to find places to rent, they can’t," stated Spears.
Nearly 20 families last year weren't able to find an affordable place to live and are still on the waiting list for a home.
In an effort to keep this from happening again in 2013, the department is asking for the government to increase current payment standards to match the high cost of rent in the Basin.
“I sent a letter. I'm still waiting to hear from HUD, to get a request for exception rents in this area. But it still will not be able to meet all of the need of the families we can subsidized because we only get a certain amount money. It’s based upon the number of units that you had the year before. So if our count is down the year before, that means our funding is down,” said Spears.
The executive director also stated that this request will allow them to give more money to low income families looking for housing, but they don't expect to meet the high demand of all low-income families requesting assistance.
Spears stated they are still waiting on a response from the federal government to see if they'll grant more money for the housing authority to use.