HRA announces new Section 8 program

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 17, 2001

Home ownership may one day be a possibility for residents who use Section 8 vouchers in Austin.

Friday, February 16, 2001

Home ownership may one day be a possibility for residents who use Section 8 vouchers in Austin.

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A recently created program by the federal Housing and Urban Development Department allows people with Section 8 to convert their vouchers to assistance for home ownership.

Kermit Mahan of the Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Austin said this week that there are certain guidelines for qualification, however.

"HUD will annually review your income and you must have a job for two years," he said.

Each qualifier also will be required to provide "a certain level of down payment" to be eligible for the program, Mahan said.

He said he is aware of one client in particular who "seems to fit well" into the qualifications. He added the fact the HRA is pursuing this new program shows HUD that Austin is "doing something." The board approved pursuing the program with the one client Mahan specified.

In a related action, Mahan is applying for additional Section 8 vouchers, with the understanding that low-income clients will be interested in new units to be completed in Austin this year. Austin has around 200 Section 8 clients. Mahan expects to apply for an additional 20 vouchers, which will serve 20 families.

Mahan and the HRA staff also is "exploring" the possibility of a joint-powers agreement with Freeborn County. Landlords in the neighboring county have asked Mahan to help them secure Section 8 vouchers. The HRA board approved the exploration of the plan, which will require Mahan and HRA staff to contact Freeborn County and offer to secure the vouchers for them.

Albert Lea can be a conduit for the Freeborn County vouchers as well, but so far have not done so.


"If they (Freeborn County officials) are interested, fine," Mahan said. "If not, fine. But we think we should explore it."

City Councilman-at-Large Dick Chaffee said contacting Freeborn County is "a way of saying we are being neighborly and want to talk to them as long as there is a need on their part."

The HRA will be reimbursed for any travel and administrative costs incurred because of the agreement.