Scottsdale Housing Agency wait list exceeds 6,000 families seeking affordable options

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Thousands of Scottsdale families wait years to receive affordable housing vouchers, documents show, as City Council recently approved a bevy of authorizations to renew programs.

On March 17, the Scottsdale City Council approved on consent resolution No. 11670, which made way for the city to:

  • Approve the Public Housing Agency Five-Year Agency Plan for 2020-25;
  • Approve the Annual Agency Plan for FY 2020-21 for the operation of the Housing Choice Voucher Program and authorizes their submittal to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development;
  • Authorizes changes to the Scottsdale Housing Agency Administrative Plan; and
  • Authorizes the acceptance of additional Housing Choice Vouchers offered during FY 2020-21.

The Scottsdale Housing Agency reports a three- to-five-year wait time for families.

The Housing Choice Voucher increases affordable housing options for families within the Scottsdale community, according to a city staff report. The program provides housing assistance to very low- and extremely low-income residents, many of whom are elderly or disabled.

In March 2019, the local housing agency completed the final lease-up of the 2015 waiting list. As of February, there were 6,192 families on the Housing Choice Voucher Program waiting list. The majority of families on the wait list are extremely low-income, according to city documents.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines very low income as families with income below 50% of area-median income or below $36,450 annually for a family of four.

HUD defines extremely low income as families with income below 30% of area median income or below $25,750 annually for a family of four.

The most recent U.S. Census data available states 8% of Scottsdale population --- or about 20,000 people --- live at the poverty level. According to data from the current wait list, the demand is for one and two-bedroom units.

On a progress report of the goals and objectives from the previous five-year plan, the Scottsdale Housing Agency states of the 6,400 wait-listed participants, 248 applications were pulled. When the wait list time is less than 24 months, the agency will reopen the wait list for new applications.

The five-year and annual agency plans are guides to the Public Housing Agency’s policies, program operations and strategies for meeting local housing needs and goals.

Any agency that receives funds to operate federal public housing or Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance must submit an annual agency plan each year, and a five-year agency plan every five years.

The Scottsdale Housing Agency has directly administered the choice voucher program since 1992.

Through the form of Housing Choice Vouchers, housing assistance is provided to program participants, allowing them to locate their own unit in the private rental market.

HUD establishes the fair market rents for Maricopa County annually based on the community rental market, the staff report stated.

A participating voucher family must pay 30% of their monthly adjusted income for rent and utilities, and the voucher choice program pays the property owner the remaining portion of rent.

The Scottsdale Housing Agency is authorized to assist a maximum of 735 families.

“SHA will continue to monitor the program’s utilization of vouchers to maximize the number of families that can be served within the resources provided by HUD,” Interim Community Assistance Manager Justin Boyd stated in his staff report to council.

The Scottsdale Housing Agency anticipates receiving approximately $5 million in Housing Assistance Payment to provide housing assistance to income-eligible participants for fiscal year 2020-21, which begins on July 1. The administrative funding is approximately $427,000.

The Five-Year Agency Plan and the Annual Agency Plan were developed with input from a six-member federally mandated Resident Advisory Board, comprised of active Housing Choice Voucher program participants in good standing with the Scottsdale Housing Agency.

The plans were approved by the board members on Jan. 7, and by the Human Services Commission on Jan. 9.

The 30-day public comment period was published in the Arizona Republic and on the city’s website.

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