DHA confirms voucher recipients ousted

Sep. 27, 2013 @ 07:02 PM

The Durham Housing Authority’s chief confirmed that a north Durham apartment complex opted recently not to renew the leases of 23 tenants who’d been living there with help from Section 8 rental vouchers.

The non-renewals at what is now the Meriwether Place complex came after managers there “took exception” to DHA’s decision to suspend its processing of rent-increase requests, authority CEO Dallas Parks said.

Also known as the Carver Pond Apartments, the complex had been home to 76 voucher-using tenants, Parks said.

The displaced tenants received new vouchers from DHA and “to our knowledge,” all have found new apartments, Parks said.

He added that renewal decisions had played out over six months and that he didn’t know whether the remaining 53 tenants will be affected.

Parks comments on Thursday came a day after City Council candidate Pam Karriker told The Herald-Sun there’s a problem with landlords refusing to accept Section 8 vouchers.

She singled out the Carver Pond/Meriwether Place situation as an example.

Parks on Wednesday said that the agency in actuality has recorded an increase in the number of Durham landlords who accept vouchers, from about 900 when he took over in 2010 to more than 1,000 today.

But he acknowledged the program is feeling the effects of budgetary decisions at the federal level.

Thanks to the sequester of federal funds brought about by the Congressional budget impasse, the agency has lost about $1 million in voucher money it had been expecting to receive this year.

It’s also lost administrative funds to the sequester and federal deficit-reduction efforts. That’s forced staff cutbacks in DHA’s Section 8 office.

Whereas in 2010 it had 23 people to run the program, now it has an authorized strength of only 15. And at present, three of those positions are vacant, Parks said.

Given the shortages, DHA officials opted earlier this year to halt the processing of landlords’ requests for rent increases.

The agency intends to resume them “at a later date,” Parks said, without being more specific.

A staffer at Meriwether Place/Carver Pond took a message from The Herald-Sun on Friday and promised a response. It had not occurred as of the close of business early Friday evening.