FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne is working to address a housing crisis for those in need but with rising rental prices vouchers may not be enough.
Officials said finding affordable housing has been an issue since the COVID-19 pandemic. While there are not enough housing vouchers to go around to those who need them, people who have vouchers have a hard time finding a landlord who will rent to them.
“It’s the perfect storm of, you know, economy, market-rate rents and you know, rental prices that have just skyrocketed,” said Pam Brookshire, Vice President of Community Services at Brightpoint.
Brightpoint is a community action agency with a focus on creating a state “with limited or no poverty, where its residents have decent, safe, and sanitary living conditions, and where resources are available to help low-income individuals attain self-sufficiency.” Brightpoint provides low-income residents with a voucher program that assists with rent, utilities and other needs.
Once someone is approved for a voucher, Brightpoint explains the rules and regulations that they’ve been approved for. Residents are then given a list of landlords that Brightpoint has used before and have 60 to 120 days to find a unit, which Brookshire said is not enough time.
The housing crisis has become so severe that some people are forced to live in hotels.
Brookshire said outside community investors came in within the last year and bought property, and they would rent to those with vouchers. But then, new landlords would take over and stop renting to them, causing tenants that were on vouchers would have to leave.
Many landlords do not accept vouchers, causing some people who need vouchers to go without.
“The federal government funding level has been the same since 1983. So there’s really no new vouchers for anyone,” Brookshire said.
There are programs in place to try to correct this issue. The City of Fort Wayne has launched Everyone Home, an initiative to prevent and end homelessness. Through that program, there is a landlord engagement subcommittee that hosts roundtable discussions with landlords to understand how they can ease their fears of renting to those with housing vouchers.
‘We want people to be able to live in safe and secure affordable housing and we have to all do it together,” Brookshire said.
To find out more information on the Everyone Home initiative head to their website.