Time Warner Cable News reports that the RHA will no longer provide Section 8 housing assistance to its residents, due to the hundreds of housing code violations Snug Harbor Court has accrued recently: mold, cracked ceilings, rodent droppings, bedbugs, and other problems.
Section 8 refers to the federal housing assistance program that provides rental support to qualifying low-income Americans. Approximately 4.8 million Americans receive federal housing assistance, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In Philadelphia, there are 440,000 residents alone who fall under the federal poverty line, and many of them qualify for Section 8 assistance.
In Snug Harbor Court, many of the residents depend on Section 8 to pay the rent, including members of the African American and Hispanic communities. Despite this, the RHA is forcing Section 8 residents to pay the rent in full by July 1st or face eviction.
Resident Charlene Riley is worried she will face homelessness. She wants to continue to live in the townhome but claims she doesn’t have enough money to pay for the needed renovations.
“We need some help,” Riley said. “I’m not trying to ask for much. I don’t have money to go out and do all this.”
Some residents, however, seem to support the decision. Heather Lopez, a two-time cancer survivor, said she cannot take living in the poor living conditions anymore, attributing many of her health problems to them.
“There’s just all this bad stuff in this house that’s just making me sicker and sicker,” said Lopez. “So I just think this place needs to be totally shut down. Shut down to the ground.”
“The stress that we’ve all gone through in here, and the suffering, is just — it’s like, where do you go from here?” she continued.
In addition to the housing violations, the RHA ended their sponsorship because of the rise in demand for Section 8 assistance in Rochester. The demand is so overwhelming that it has suspended its waitlist for the next few years.
However, city officials said they are working on the problem and trying to find a new location for the displaced residents. City of Rochester Communications Director James Smith maintains they do not intend to abandon the residents.
“We don’t want anyone displaced from their home, obviously,” Smith said. “But we don’t want people living in conditions that are unsafe.”
“Someone holds the ball, and someone needs to help all these people in here,” Lopez said. “We’ve gone through this and we’ve suffered long enough. Emotionally, mentally, and physically, we’ve all gone through way too much, and it’s not fair.”