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Dallas Wins $5M Grant to Help Relocate Housing Voucher Holders

The city’s Housing Authority received the federal grant to help voucher holders relocate to areas of high opportunity. The DHA estimates that more than 3,500 families are living in non-high-opportunity areas.

The city of Dallas’ housing authority has won a $5 million grant from the federal government to help voucher holders relocate to low-poverty areas with high-performing schools, access to jobs, low crime rates, parks, and other amenities.

The five-year grant to DHA Housing Solutions for North Texas will fund mobility counseling for 200 families with vouchers every year, which includes adding staff who will help clients find and secure housing.

Families with vouchers will also be able to access $4,250 in flexible funds to use on security deposits, moving expenses, utility deposits and a landlord signing bonus.

Researchers at DHA who applied for the grant say voucher holders often face barriers to finding and acquiring housing in high-opportunity areas because of financial constraints that aren’t covered by the voucher.

“Relocating and a housing search is not a cost-free exercise,” said Myriam Igoufe, DHA’s chief research and innovation officer. “You must have the time, you must have the resources to even apply.”

Housing authorities aren’t typically involved in the housing search process, Igoufe said, but the grant will allow DHA, which serves 16,000 voucher holders across North Texas, to hire housing navigators to assist families in relocating.

DHA estimates that more than 3,500 families are living in non-high-opportunity areas as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The demand greatly exceeds the capacity of the program,” said Igoufe, adding that DHA will prioritize families living in the highest poverty areas first.

Research supports the idea that counseling services affect the likelihood that a voucher holder can secure a lease, as well as how well-dispersed families are geographically.

“This really helps families with making informed decisions but also enhances their competitiveness in a very, very tight rental market that is lacking critical source-of-income protection,” Igoufe said. “It makes a world of a difference.”

Voucher holders often face discrimination in the housing market from reluctant landlords because of what Igoufe says is misinformation about the program around late payments and tedious paperwork.

“It’s very important that we understand that we have patterns of segregation currently in the program that we must combat,” Igoufe said. “This duty is a part of affirmatively furthering fair housing.”

©2023 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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