LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Between Roanoke and Lynchburg, our area is getting nearly a half a million dollars worth of housing vouchers, which comes out to 41 families between the two cities.
That’s according to a press release from U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner on Thursday, June 10, detailing that Virginia recently received more than $15 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help Virginians access affordable housing in the form of emergency housing vouchers.
Two housing authorities in our area are receiving some of those funds. The Lynchburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority will receive $148,272, and the Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority will receive $320,280.
“It changes their life. It changes their life,” said Mary Mayrose, Executive Director of the Lynchburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority. “In fact we have one family that’s ready to go under lease in the next week.”
As Mayrose explains, that family is one out of 15 in Lynchburg set to receive emergency housing vouchers, which are meant for families experiencing homelessness or just days away from homelessness.
She says with the voucher, a family pays 30 percent of their monthly income on rent for an affordable home, and the voucher covers the rest in perpetuity. If the family makes no income, the voucher fully covers the cost of rent.
Getting that housing can go a long way toward accessing jobs, education, health care, and more.
“If a family has shelter, many, many other issues can be addressed after they get into safe and sanitary housing,” said Mayrose.
Roanoke received enough funds to cover 26 vouchers, though the need is a lot bigger.
“But we are very grateful for the 26,” said David Bustamante, Executive Director of the City of Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority. “As a matter of fact, as part of my acceptance of these vouchers, there was a section where you either had to accept them or deny them or accept them and ask for more. We accepted and asked for more.”
Lynchburg also asked for more. Their waitlist is 1,300 names long, which means a lot of hard conversations.
“‘I just checked and I’m number 948 on the wait list. When am I going to get a voucher?'” said Mary Mayrose, describing a common question she receives. “Probably about five years. I mean that is a hard message to send.”
While dozens of families’ lives will change, thousands more still need help.