BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE, THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Lone Star Legal Aid, and Michael Daniel and Laura Beshara of Daniel & Beshara, P.C. call on HUD to help alleviate the suffering imposed by Hurricane Harvey and the severe housing shortage for low-income Texans. Hurricane Harvey devastated large portions of Lone Star Legal Aid’s service area leaving many homeless and grasping for housing that is more than substandard. The cost of housing is skyrocketing and it is significantly difficult to find decent housing at affordable prices. The affected area needs more affordable housing opportunities.
With a client population that exceeds 2.3 million people who are at 125% of the federal poverty guidelines, Lone Star Legal Aid and Daniel & Beshara are asking HUD to eliminate its bureaucratic barriers and to provide more funding for the area housing authorities to make affordable housing available to low-income families. By letter sent to Secretary Ben Carson on October 27th, Lone Star Legal Aid and Daniel & Beshara proposed waivers and administrative modifications that will significantly improve housing availability for persons that were affected by Hurricane Harvey’s devastating effects. Rebuilding in the impacted areas has barely begun. Many residents are still living in properties that have yet to be repaired. If HUD agrees to change its policies and incentives while making its program rules more flexible, these changes will streamline the creation of affordable housing in higher opportunity neighborhoods in the area affected by Hurricane Harvey.
An increase in the number of affordable housing units in the devastated area will significantly affect the lives of thousands of people. “We are moving beyond the news of the moment and are now in a struggle to recreate a working home. We are simply asking for the opportunity to secure the basic rights of a shelter, a safe, habitable and secure base that will enable people to go out in their community of work, school and culture with dignity and confidence…a place to belong to.”, says Helen Malveaux an attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid.
LSLA and Daniel and Beshara, P.C. have identified some barriers to affordable housing in the region: 1) there are rules which restrict the movement of housing voucher holders 2) there is not enough funding to provide the assistance required to help family voucher holders affected by the Hurricane to find appropriate housing. 3) fair market rent payment for the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey need to be increased to a 150% payment standard. 4) there are restrictions which prevent voucher holders from moving to appropriate housing in other areas. 5) there are required lease provisions that private landlords claim make it too expensive for them to rent to voucher holders.
We are asking HUD to 1. Remove the current restrictions on the ability of voucher families to move. The restriction if left standing will force many voucher families to remain in a dangerous, unhealthy, and unsafe unit and neighborhood conditions. 2. Allow the housing authorities to cover the increased cost of administrative fees. 3. Allow the housing authorities to pay for the increased costs of inspections, paperwork processing, and quicker tenant screening. 4. Provide financial assistance to encourage and convince landlords to accept vouchers and help tenants obtain much-needed housing by providing incentive payments and payments of security deposits. 5. Require housing search assistance counseling to find available housing, and negotiate with landlords.
“The letter requests HUD to take several actions HUD knows will improve the chances for voucher families to obtain adequate and affordable housing in decent and safe neighborhoods. Increasing the rents that can be paid is critical to keeping the shortage of adequate housing from sending voucher families to substandard housing and neighborhoods. Expanding the areas in which voucher families can use the voucher will prevent overcrowding and the attendant high rents for low quality that occurs when vouchers are confined to limited areas. HUD must take these actions or Houston area voucher families will continue to suffer the effects of the hurricane for a long time.” says renowned housing lawyer Michael Daniel of Daniel & Beshara, P.C.
Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and also 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, such as those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.
Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, firstname.lastname@example.org