AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – The Auburn Housing Authority is taking on an urgent affordable housing issue as they watch federally funded housing vouchers go unused in the city due to a lack of properties. The funding and need are there, but the housing units are not.

The Auburn Housing Authority’s mission is to provide safe, decent, and sanitary homes while helping families transition from subsidized to unsubsidized living. However, only 30% of voucher families can find a property in the city’s private market. The shortage also impacts specialty vouchers for veterans, foster youth aging out of the system, non-elderly disabled, domestic violence survivors, and others with emergency housing needs. The situation is so dire there is concern the AHA could lose funding for veteran vouchers because the housing isn’t there.

“Our section eight housing waiting list is over 600 applicants, our project-based waiting list for our properties is over 2,000, so that alone shows you the need,” said Sharon Tolbert, Chief Executive Officer at Auburn Housing Authority.

The Auburn Housing Authority hopes to expand housing opportunities through new partnerships with Lee and Chambers County landlords. The program can help landlords fill vacancies and provide stable rental income while assisting families in living with dignity.

“The intent is for families not to be cost-burdened by paying so much in rent that they can’t meet other needs,” said Tolbert.

“When we issue these vouchers, we see the family’s excitement in them. But, then they come back and say they can’t find housing,” said Auburn Housing Authority’s Public Relations Director AJ Harris.

Tolbert says it’s disheartening to have the funding and a waiting list while not being able to utilize what the AHA can do.

“We need those community partners. We can’t do it alone,” said Tolbert.

The AHA hopes to change the conversation by hosting a landlord symposium Thursday at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you own one unit or hundreds, you’re invited, no strings attached, to learn about the voucher program’s benefits. Stable rental income is just one of the many benefits. The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program provides rental assistance to income-eligible tenants by paying a portion of their monthly rent and utilities directly to their landlord.

“We can help with any occupancy issues a local landlord may have. But, for me, it’s always personal. I tell my story all the time. I am a product of the community we serve. This is not only my job; it’s my passion. I am a poster child and proud of it,” said Tolbert.

The symposium allows an opportunity to address the stigma unjustly associated with the voucher program and subsidized housing. The Auburn Housing Authority hopes to start a conversation with local landlords.

“We want to bring people in to talk about the misconceptions and get feedback from them if there is a barrier they are having with participating in our program. So let’s talk about it and how we can get around it. We have a lot of flexibility in our programs. We have the tenants, you have the properties, lets work together,” said Harris.

The Auburn Housing Authority Landlord Symposium
July 14, 2022
11:30 AM – 3 PM
Auburn Chamber of Commerce
714 E Glenn Ave
Auburn, AL 36830

Contact AJ Harris via phone at 334-821-2262 ext. 210 or via e-mail at ajharris@auburnhousingauth.org for more information.

For more information: Auburn Housing Authority Landlord Symposium