Some Section 8 recipients running into issues finding housing after being denied by landlords

There is another hurdle for New Jersey residents impacted by Ida. Some are saying that landlords are making it difficult for them to find homes.

News 12 Staff

Nov 5, 2021, 2:39 AM

Updated 890 days ago

Share:

There is another hurdle for New Jersey residents impacted by Ida. Some are saying that landlords are making it difficult for them to find homes.
With a Section 8 voucher, renters are virtually able to live anywhere. But some tenants say that landlords are outright telling them, “No” – which is illegal.
Michelle Ward is an assistant food service director, a business management student and mother of two. She is also looking for somewhere clean and safe for her and her family to call home. She is a recipient of an Emergency Housing Voucher.
“I was approved for Section 8 in September, so that’s going to help,” she says.
Ward lost her job because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She just recently started working again, but still needs rental assistance to make ends meet. But she says that she keeps hitting roadblocks with some landlords.
“A lot of people have been saying they don’t accept Section 8. They don’t take the voucher,” says Ward.
According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the voucher program is designed to give low-income renters a leg up on deciding where they'd like to live. The program is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects. However, HUD reports, over 50% of New Jerseyans who use subsidized housing vouchers live in New Jersey's lowest income neighborhoods. This is oftentimes because landlords won't accept housing vouchers, leaving renters without any choice.
“That is against the Fair Housing Act of 1968,” says Geleen Donovan, executive director of Family Promise of Union County. “That is a discriminatory practice based on a source of income that a person will present to pay their rent.”
So what can tenants do if they are denied housing?
“The Division of Civil Rights takes complaints and will pursue complaints on this. The goal is to try and educate landlords about what the law is and also make sure tenants are protected,” says Maura Sanders, chief counsel for Legal Services of New Jersey.
As for Ward, she says that she has a January deadline looming for her to find a home.
“I'm still looking at apartments, so hopefully one of them accepts the voucher,” she says.
Oakwood Plaza Apartments in Elizabeth was a low-income housing community that has since been flooded out by Ida. Union County lost 400 low-income housing units to that flood. Many of the former residents of Oakwood have been given rental vouchers to aid in finding housing however some are faced with landlords who turn them down.


More from News 12