by Mark McKimmy
At the May 2 BOCC meeting Sheena Darland, Housing Coordinator for Grand County Housing Authority, presented a Section 8 Housing Voucher Program update.
Darland, who has been with Section 8 housing since 2014, told the Commissioner’s how the program was authorized by Congress in 1974 and developed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The purpose is to provide rental subsidies for safe, sanitary and decent housing to eligible participants at very low income levels.
Grand County Housing Authority is contracted through the Colorado Division of Housing to Administer the Housing Choice voucher program for Grand, Clear Creek, Summit, Routt, Jackson and Gilpin counties. Once issued to an eligible individual or family the housing voucher stays with the recipient as long as they stay eligible. Since it is a federal funded program if the recipient moves to another county or even to a new state altogether the voucher can be used to find Section 8 housing at their new location. The voucher is not replaced with a new one.
“If HUD gets the funding for additional vouchers they notify agencies like the Colorado Division Housing who can apply for the vouchers. Once they receive them we may receive a few which we try and distribute equally among the 6 counties” commented Darland.
Normally the waiting list is opened in May for a few days for new applicants but given there are currently 15 applicants already on the waiting list it will not be opened this month. “It doesn’t make sense to pile more applicants on top of those already waiting.”
“No new vouchers have been made available from HUD since last August. I doubt they will cut any current people living in Section 8 housing however I do not see them making additional money available for new vouchers any time in the near future.”
Darland isn’t the type to sit back, throw her hands up and say there’s nothing she can do. Darland and her assistant check on housing vouchers daily, and she is pushing hard for true affordable housing to be built in Grand County. “It can be frustrating to go home knowing the vouchers are not there right now and there are so many in need of decent housing.” Determined to make a difference she continues to push the state and feds for more vouchers and work with local developers to build affordable housing now. “We need affordable housing for our police, firefighters, teachers, service workers, every segment of our community really.”