Harrisonburg's housing authority is using federal stimulus money in a new campaign for renters. Households with low-income, elderly, or disabled residents can apply. But during a pandemic-related eviction crisis, the trick is getting landlords to sign on. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.
LIZ WEBB: Under the best of circumstances, finding landlords who accept vouchers and who work with vouchers can be a challenge. And with the pandemic, it's made it extra challenging. And so once we came back to work and we were able to access some federal money through the CARES Act, we looked at, how could we best market our program to landlords and highlight the families we're trying to help?
Liz Webb is the Housing Choice Voucher manager at the HRHA. They still have close to 100 vouchers in the hands of people who haven't found a place to rent. One barrier, Webb said, is the misconception that landlords who rent to voucher holders don't have much control over who their tenants are.
WEBB: The landlords will screen households and decide who's going to make a good tenant for them. They can enforce their lease.
Another problem is the lack of affordable single-bedroom units available in the Harrisonburg area. Many of the voucher holders are single adults or couples. But once their clients do find a place to live, they stay there for an average of
over more than four years.
WEBB: They're people who already live here … They're already your neighbors. They're already people that you see at the supermarket, their kids go to school here, these are community members already. They just need a little help.
Interested landlords should check out their website at harrisonburgrha.com, or call at 540-434-7386.