Using your voucher to expand your opportunities
Now that you have been issued a Housing Choice Voucher, your next step is to find a unit. Take a little time to think about where you would want to live and what is important to you in considering a place to live. RHA encourages you to take full advantage of the opportunity to locate a new home anywhere in Wake County. The following factors are some of the things you might want to consider:
- While searching for a unit, treat this as a professional endeavor. In many ways when you are speaking with a potential landlord, it is similar to a job interview. You should represent yourself well and arrive prepared to complete the application. If possible, do not bring your children with you since they can be a distraction to you. Have all the contact information for your family and references, have a picture ID card, be ready to show your income, and answer questions honestly. If you have a credit issue or previous housing problem you should be open about it. Some landlords will give you a second chance depending on the reasons for your difficulty. Being courteous can go a long way.
- You are also interviewing the potential landlord. Find out what you want to know – what schools do children that live there attend? Is the property on the bus line? Are there amenities (exercise room, pool)? Is there a playground or a park nearby? Is there a grocery store or pharmacy nearby? Is there a day care in the area? Are there job opportunities near? You are selecting a landlord as much as they are selecting you!
- Many landlords that participate in the program do so because a participant approached them about it. Look around in communities where you would like to move for “For Rent” signs. Call the landlord and inquire about the unit. Get acquainted by introducing yourself. You need to ask if they would be willing to accept a voucher, but it doesn’t have to be your first question. Sometimes a landlord will consider taking a voucher if he is impressed by the applicant. This reflects back to making a positive impression. Be prepared to provide the landlord with RHA’s web page or know the date of the next landlord briefing offered by RHA. This gives the landlord an opportunity to learn about the program.
- If you are a person with physical impairments, ask if the landlord has an accessible unit available. This can include a wheel-chair accessible unit, a flat unit without stairs, or a unit for someone with a visual or hearing impairment. Often property owners have accessible units that are not leased to families that need the features of the unit.
- If you have your own transportation, you have many possible housing locations from which to choose and do not need to confine your search to the bus line. However, the City of Raleigh and the Triangle Transit Authority cover much of the local area including service to portions of the RTP, Knightdale, Brier Creek, and Wake Forest. The Resources on the back of this page provides more information on these services. If you must rely on public transit, you may want to search for housing near your place of employment. This will help to decrease your travel time.
- Consider community programs and services available in the area. As a senior citizen you might want to look for housing in buildings designated for the elderly which typically have programs and services of interest to seniors. These communities often have social activities, in-house laundry facilities, game rooms, computer rooms, exercise equipment, and other senior activities. Be sure to inquire about those that are important to you.
These are suggestions. Only you know what is important to you and your family.
Considerable information is provided over the Internet. Therefore, RHA has assembled some web addresses and phone numbers for resources that can assist you with making the best housing choice for your family.
RHA understands that not everyone has access to the Internet. Computer access is available in all Wake County Libraries. Visit www.wakegov.com/libraries/locations/Pages/default.aspx for a list of all locations or you may call 411. In addition, RHA provides computer access in the Leased Housing lobby at 900 Haynes Street during regular business hours. These are available on a first come, first served basis. The length of time you may use these computers is 20 minutes if someone else is waiting. The City provides two computer labs for public use: 1) Top Green Center (919) 831-6257 located at 401 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Hours of operation are Monday – Friday from 2 PM to 6 PM and Saturdays 11 AM to 4 PM. 2) Sanderford Road Center at 2623 Sanderford Road. It is open 2 PM to 8 PM Monday-Friday and 11 AM to 5 PM on Saturday. Call (919) 831-1898 for information.
Available rental units can be researched at the following web sites: www.nchousingsearch.org, www.affordablehousing.com, and www.nchfa.com. Typing the unit size and zip code into a search engine will also generate results.
If you have a Section 8 voucher outside of the Raleigh area, you can find available apartments at the Public Housing Authorities of North Carolina. Other resources include the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Affordable Apartment Search and the USDA Multi-Family Housing Rentals.
There are other sites such as www.craigslist.com, and www.ForRent.com but are not specifically for Section 8 recipients, so you will need to do your own checking to determine whether landlords will accept vouchers.
To find out which schools serve a specific address, visit the following web site: wwwgis2.wcpss.net/addressLookup/. You can also get information on school performance at this site.
RHA has posted a map of the bus lines. To find out if an address is served by Capital Area Transit (CAT) visit:www.raleighnc.gov/services/content/PWksTransit/Articles/CATBusRoutes.html
Triangle Transit Authority information can be found at: www.triangletransit.org/maps-and-schedules. Disabled persons and persons over 65 can ride for a free or reduced rate. Call (919) 996-3459 for information.
There are also charities that donate cars to low-income families. Visit www.wheels4hope.org for information on this program. You must be referred by a partner agency or congregation to qualify for a car. There are other similar organizations as well.
Credit Issues – Negative items on credit reports can impact housing options. Triangle Family Services offers workshops to address these issues. Visit www.tfsnc.org or call (919) 821-1770 X 108 for information on their services.
Recreational and after-school programs. The recreation departments for both the City of Raleigh and Wake County offer many locations for recreational activities as well as track-out and after school programs. Some of these programs have scholarship assistance available to help with the cost. To find where the various parks and facilities are located, you can visit the following sites: www.wakegov.com/parks/Pages/default.aspx and www.raleighnc.gov/parks/content/PRecParks/Articles/ParksFacilities.html.
If you are seeking employment you may contact the Capitol Area Work Force Development Board at www.capitalareawdb.com. This agency provides training and employment opportunities for youth and adults.
RHA hopes you find this information helpful. Make the most of this opportunity and good luck in your search for a new home!