Making Democracy Work

Salem Housing Authority Overview (May 2018)

Patty Davenport and Jean Massie

Salem Housing Authority's (SHA) mission is to assist low and moderate income families to achieve self sufficiency through stable housing. They work to provide stable housing through rent subsidies and community investments. SHA achieves these goals through programs such as: Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, Public Housing and Affordable Housing Programs, and various smaller programs. (Ref.1)

Established 1969, SHA serves about nine thousand people within the Salem Urban Growth Boundary. Their client base is anywhere from 3,500 to 4,000 on any given day. SHA also works closely with other community services to provide wrap-around support. "Due to being fully leased with funding received from U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), SHA will be closing the Section 8 waiting list effective July 1, 2018. Currently, there are over 5,000 families on the Section 8 waiting list and it is unknown at this time when [they] will be pulling from that list. The waiting list for Public Housing is currently 1½ to 3 years." (Ref. 1, 2, 4)

The fair market rate for Salem's rental properties in the private sector has increased 10% in the last four years. Salem's rental property has just above a 2% vacancy rate. The lack of available and affordable housing pushes low and very low income people out of the rental housing market and increases homelessness. Even with Section 8 Vouchers, SHA estimates some 250 of those vouchers cannot be used due to decreased rental housing availability and increased rents. (Ref. 2, 4)

Approximately ninety percent of SHA funding is from HUD. This is primarily for Section 8 Vouchers with ten percent from local funding such as affordable housing income. (Ref. 2)

PROGRAMS MANAGED BY SALEM HOUSING AUTHORITY

Section 8 Housing Vouchers

SHA oversee the local dispersement of federal housing funds through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. This program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, elderly people and persons needing special accommodations to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private rental market. (Ref. 1, 5)

There are several types of vouchers in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The most common are Tenant-based and Unit based.

Tenant-based Vouchers stay with the tenant and are portable, whether within the city, state or country as long as the rental unit and tenant continue to meet program requirements. Tenant-based vouchers are given to clients to aid in finding housing in the private marketplace, which includes single-family homes, townhouses and apartments. They can also be used in Public Housing and Affordable Housing.

When the family finds a suitable housing unit and funding is available, SHA will enter into a contract with the property-owner and the family will enter into a lease with the property-owner. Each party makes its respective payments to the property-owner so that the owner receives full rent. Clients must pass a criminal background check and at least one family member must be a US citizen. They must also meet income guidelines. (Ref.1, 2, 4)
Unit-based Vouchers stay with the rental property. The tenant may move but the voucher is attached to the property. (Ref. 4)

Large Properties Management Salem Housing Authority (SHA) is responsible for management of six housing developments and 87 scattered sites throughout the Salem Keizer area. They enforce lease agreements, set fees and charges, and work to maintain decent, safe and sanitary living conditions for their clients.

Public Housing

There are 245 public housing units that are for limited to low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. SHA determines client eligibility based on:
1)  Annual gross income; below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).
2)  Whether they qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family.
3)  Have U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status.
4)  When eligible for the voucher program SHA will check client references and make 
background checks. 

Most units are 3-, 4-, & 5-bedroom townhouses; there is a limited number of 2-bedroom units. Rent is calculated at 30% of the household's income. (Ref. 1, 3:Dec 22, 2017, 5)

Affordable Housing

SHA has 392 Affordable Housing Units (non-federal) for low-income households--below 60% AMI. These properties are for families that meet specific income requirements. (Ref. 4)

VARIOUS SMALLER PROGRAMS

Family Self Sufficiency Program (FSS)

The purpose of the FSS Program is to enable families on Section 8 and Public Housing programs to achieve economic independence and self sufficiency through education and the improvement of employable skills. The client meets with an FSS Coordinator who works with the client to set the goals to accomplish over the five-year program. Once a client begins to increase their income, their rent will also increase. The increased rent is put into an FSS Escrow Account; upon completion of the program the client may use the Escrow Account to purchase a stated goal such as a car or down payment on a house.

The FSS Coordinators work with community professionals in the areas of social services, employment, education, and healthcare. The coordinator and client set up an Individual Training Service Plan (ITSP), which is a very specific, detailed goal plan for the individual joining the program. These goals focus on education, employment, personal, financial, & legal goals. It is the job of the coordinator and client to make sure the goals are met by the end of the contract in order to successfully graduate.

Selection for participation in the program will not depend upon the level of education, job history, job performance or credit history of the applicant. Clients with disabilities may participate in the program and may graduate, even if they are unable to work. The head of the household shall be required to seek and maintain employment. All FSS participants must have valid social security numbers. A client who participates in FSS, but fails to complete their contract may participate again in the program. (Ref. 1)

Family Unification

"SHA entered into an agreement with the Department of Human Services (DHS) after receiving 100 Family Unification Vouchers from [HUD]. This program serves three types of families experiencing barriers to finding stable housing: 1) parents reuniting with children returning from foster care; 2) parents that need to provide a stable living environment to avoid having their children removed from their home; and 3) youth 18 to 21 years of age who have recently left the foster system and need to return to their parent's home. Ninety-two households are currently served with Family Unification Vouchers." (Ref. 3:Dec 22, 2017)

Homeless Rental Assistance Program (HRAP)

The Homeless Rental Assistance Program (HRAP) launched in July 2017 is Salem's Housing First Initiative to permanently house 100 of the most vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals in the City of Salem. This Program is funded by the City of Salem and administered and operated by SHA in collaboration with the ARCHES Program. The program assists with rental housing payments and works with landlords to remove barriers for renting to homeless clients, such as poor rental history. They facilitate access to critical support services such as health care, mental health care providers and other social service providers.

Referrals to the program are from ARCHES who first evaluate clients for their vulnerability index and individual needs prior to entry into the program. Intensive case management is provided by HRAP staff. The HRAP staff works continuously to maintain and strengthen ties with the landlords. With barrier removal funds, wraparound supportive services and an Individualized Housing Stability Plan, rental openings have increased to clients. SHA has committed 100 Housing Choice Vouchers to graduates of the HRAP program to ensure their long-term housing stability. (Ref.1 and 3: Nov. 21, 2017)

Veterans' Rental Assistance Program (VRAP)

The goal of VRAP is to permanently house at least 42 homeless veterans annually as well as to provide the wrap-around support necessary for achieving long-term housing stability. VRAP is funded by a grant from the Oregon Health Authority, is operated by ARCHES and overseen by SHA. ARCHES provides rental assistance housing through barrier removal funding and intensive case management to homeless veterans. (Ref. 1 and 3:Dec. 22, 2017)

Veterans Assistance Supportive Housing Programs (VASH)

"SHA administers two VASH programs with 68 total vouchers in partnership with the Veterans Administration. The Veterans Administration screens and refers eligible veterans to SHA. The VASH tenant-based program provides vouchers to at-risk homeless veterans. VASH vouchers can be used at several SHA owned properties as well as privately owned properties." (Ref. 3:Dec. 22, 2017)

Emergency Housing Network (EHN)

The Emergency Housing Network meets once a month to bring various governmental agencies, non- profits, and other concerned stakeholders together to network on ways to better serve their clients. They are advocates serving the homeless and at-risk populations of the greater Salem area. The Salem Housing Authority runs each EHN meeting and publishes a monthly newsletter of agency events and updates. (Ref.1)

References:

1. Salem Housing Authority Website

2. Interview with Andy Wilch January 3, 2018
3. SHA Program Management Report: (Dec 22, 2017) and (Nov 21, 2017)
4. E-mail from SHA staff
5. HUD website