Grant to help low-income renters Waiting time may be nearly halved

January 08, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Low-income Westminster residents who face waiting lists of up to 18 months for one-bedroom apartments are expected to receive help from a federal grant that will spread $660,000 in rental aid over five years.

"This will help us almost cut our waiting time in half," said Karen B. Blandford, the city's supervisor of housing and community development.

"Starting in a few months, these people will get the help they've needed for a long time."

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Agency grant will provide $133,275 a year, which city officials say will cover rental assistance for 25 one-bedroom units.

Ms. Blandford said the city government specifically asked for federal aid for one-bedroom apartments, "because that is a list that doesn't move."

The waiting list for one-bedroom apartments includes many elderly or disabled people, Ms. Blandford said. These are people whose income status is unlikely to change enough to boost them off the rental-aid list, she explained.

The average income among the 20 to 25 individuals at the top of the one-bedroom waiting list is $5,671 a year, $473 a month, the housing supervisor said.

"We're hoping there are enough one-bedroom apartments out there" for prospective tenants who will soon receive notices that the new federal aid is available, Ms. Blandford said.

She said two-bedroom apartments are the most common; one and three-bedroom units are harder to find.

Tenants in the program pay 30 percent of their income toward rent. The HUD aid covers the rest.

In a separate but related action, HUD authorized Westminster officials to use some of their existing housing grant money to help homeless families find apartments.

Ms. Blandford said the housing office will work with other local agencies to provide rental aid for 19 families.

The money will help the families move out of homeless shelters, while case managers from other agencies continue working with them to eliminate the problems that led to homelessness.

The city housing office channels a total of about $1 million a year in federal aid into local housing assistance programs, Ms. Blandford said.

Landlords who have one-bedroom apartments available or are interested in participating in the program are asked to contact the city housing office at 848-2261 or 876-6322.

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