Over-housed and under-occupied Public Housing Units
For Additional Information Contact:
Ivory N. Mathews, Executive Director, The Greenville Housing Authority
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, F. Diane Keller
Greenville, SC – Fifty-four single family units owned by the Housing Authority of the City of Greenville (TGHA) and located throughout Greenville County were identified as under-occupied/overhoused. Ninety-six percent of these units are occupied by 2 persons or less; many are headed by residents whose children have grown up, moved out and started their own households.
With more than 3,000 families on the public housing waiting list, TGHA has an urgent need to right size families and place them in an appropriate size unit. We are currently housing 88 individuals in 54 homes; right sizing will allow TGHA to serve approximately 300 new people that are in need of housing.
For many years TGHA did not have an effective approach at making sure that families residing in over-housed/under-occupied units were placed in an appropriate size unit. While TGHA had procedures governing this subject, appropriate sized units were often not available and the procedures were not consistently enforced.
With the development of its 2013 Strategic Plan, TGHA began to look more closely at how we could transition families to appropriately sized units and free up housing for those on our waiting list. Our first formal meeting with effected families occurred on Thursday, November 14, 2013. Shortly thereafter we began enforcing our existing policy on occupancy and unit size. In October of 2014, TGHA’s Board of Commissioners approved revisions to its Housing Choice Voucher Administrative Plan which included a preference to allow over-housed families to receive a voucher under the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Our process for determining the appropriate size unit begins with our annual recertification, during which all residents must provide TGHA with documentation indicating their income and family size and composition. Using the information collected during this review, TGHA deems families in units with one extra bedroom, “over-housed or under-occupied”.
What does it mean to be “over-housed?” Under the HUD occupancy standards for public and assisted housing, families are supposed to be housed in units that have a minimum number of bedrooms for their family size. TGHA’s occupancy standard is one bedroom for the head of household and spouse, and one bedroom for every additional two people in the family. For example, a family with a single parent and two children, or a family with two parents and two children, is eligible for a two-bedroom subsidy or unit. Some TGHA public housing residents have become over-housed, due to changes in family size, resulting in one or two people living in a three or four-bedroom unit. Such a family is considered “over-housed” under HUD regulations and the TGHA occupancy standard. They no longer qualify to stay in the units they are in, but because the housing authority has no smaller units to offer them, they have been allowed to remain in oversized units. What help will "over-housed" families receive? Families over-housed in the current program and still eligible for Section 8 will receive a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) that allows them to rent any unit in the county that accepts a voucher including units within the City of Greenville. TGHA is committed to working closely with over-housed families to determine benefits and locate appropriate housing in the City of Greenville or any location throughout Greenville County which match their family size and needs.
TGHA understands that some families who have lived in their units for many years will find moving to be a traumatic experience. This is why we provide a number of resources to support the transition into a smaller, more appropriately sized unit. Our Family Services Department offers help with moving logistics and works to support the elderly, and those with disabilities or other special needs, transition to their new home.
Since meeting with the families in the summer of 2014 to discuss our right-sizing efforts, we have re-housed 2 families and 40 families have received vouchers and are currently searching for appropriate sized units. The remaining families are being scheduled to receive a voucher. TGHA continues to work with stakeholders, including residents, resident leaders, elected officials, and advocates in appropriately housing over-housed families.
TGHA is proud to provide affordable housing opportunities for over 7,000 individuals in Greenville, SC. Quality of life for TGHA residents is our highest concern. We are in the business of housing families. Just as TGHA evolves, so do the lives of our residents. Families expand, children grow into adults, people move on and move out and their housing needs change. We (TGHA and our residents) share a responsibility to make sure that we keep up with those changes and that residents are housed in a unit that reflects their family’s true size.
We fully understand the impact of enforcing TGHA’s policy and its effects on the individuals and families being required to move into an appropriate size unit. TGHA is committed to working with families in a collaborative, sensitive and fair manner. Requiring families to transition into appropriate size units not only addresses TGHA’s compliance concerns, it also allows TGHA to provide housing to more families on our waiting list.
On behalf of the TGHA Board of Commissioners, we appreciate the community support in our efforts to address this issue fairly and sensitively as we continue to provide affordable housing opportunities to the residents of Greenville.