Spartanburg SC owners don’t always repair Section 8 homes
Avie Keenan’s story illustrates many of the dangers of finding and keeping affordable housing in a rapidly changing community for most of its residents.
Keenan, who moved from Georgia to Spartanburg County in 2019, found a duplex in Moore and used a Section 8 housing voucher that she was able to transfer from the Georgia Housing Authority.
For her, however, affordable housing is not synonymous with quality housing.
There are a variety of maintenance issues. Part of the floor was going up. The 73-year-old was afraid of tripping and falling, so when the property management company failed to fix the floors after filing maintenance requests, she threatened legal action.
Keenan knows that the Moore duplex that she shared with her granddaughter and great-granddaughter is not the perfect place to live.
Avie Keenan on the need for affordable housing
Avie Keenan talks about her need for affordable housing in Spartanburg.
Tim Kimzey, Herald-Journal
“I tried to get it fixed forever and ever and a day,” she said.
Instead, she has had a tumultuous year that has brought her to the brink of crisis. Within three days, she received a letter to leave home, had a seizure from COVID-19, and tested positive for the virus.
The eviction notice resulting from the condition of the accommodation gave him 30 days to leave.
Keenan didn’t know who to turn to.
Its story illustrates a problem faced by housing authorities. Homeowners who are willing to accept Section 8 bonds often do not maintain their properties. When properties are not maintained, residents are forced to leave. This adds to the shortage of affordable housing.
Shaunté Evans, CEO of the organization, said the housing authority inspects voucher-subsidized homes every year, and if a unit fails the inspection, it is up to the owner to make repairs in a number. days. If it is a health or safety issue, they must complete the repairs within 24 hours.
But, “In a year a lot can happen between (inspections) for anyone’s unit,” Evans said. “And that’s the (owner’s) responsibility. “
While the voucher program is an alternative to publicly funded housing, it has gaps not only in Spartanburg County or South Carolina, but across the country.
Section 8 gives tenants the ability to find and afford housing in the private market, but it does not guarantee that housing will be available or that it will be well maintained, said Andrew Aurand of National Low Income Housing Coalition. The coalition is working on adopt a public policy that ensures that people in the United States have decent and affordable housing.
“We are not adequately funding our voucher program, we do not have a sufficient supply of subsidized housing,” Aurand said.
The availability of adequate housing varies from state to state. When living in Georgia several years ago, Keenan said she would see signs advertising rentals accepting housing vouchers, another name for Section 8. In South Carolina, she said, it is almost impossible to find a livable place that accepts a voucher.
In Spartanburg, 2,163 people receive Section 8 vouchers. There is also a waiting list of 3,390 people.
In South Carolina, 43 housing authorities offer the voucher program. The National Housing Authority also provides up to 2,000 vouchers in seven counties: Clarendon, Colleton, Dorchester, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lee and Lexington.
It’s such a big problem nationally that in 2016 and 2019, Florida Senator Marco Rubio introduced legislation to Congress to address it.
The legislation “aims to improve federal home inspections and hold landlords accountable for the misuse of taxpayer dollars or endangering the health and safety of tenants.”
Keenan did not take legal action against her property management company because she said she felt she was “fighting a losing battle.”
“I’m tired,” she said. “It’s not worth arguing and going back and forth, wasting my breath and energy.”
The Spartanburg Herald-Journal attempted to contact its owner by phone, but the owner did not respond. The owner of her home owns dozens of other properties in Spartanburg County. It is not known how many of them are occupied by people who receive Section 8 vouchers.
Keenan has since returned to work three days a week and has moved into a house with her daughter where she no longer needs to use vouchers. Her granddaughter and great granddaughter also moved into their own apartment.
“I am very happy with the way it ended,” Keenan said. “I just hate having to go through what I’ve been through.”
“It was very stressful, but in the end I always feel like I came out on top.”
Contact Genna at [email protected] or on Twitter @GennaContino.