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Housing Search Assistance - Welfare to Work Vouchers

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 -   Preparing and Motivating Families to Search
 -   Providing Families with the Tools They Need to Search

Preparing and Motivating Families to Search

Searching for housing, particularly in unfamiliar neighborhoods and in tight rental markets, can be a daunting task. As a result, PHAs need to keep families enthusiastic about the opportunities provided by the program. There are several things PHAs can do to help motivate families:

  • Promote the real advantages and opportunities available through the WtW voucher program.

  • Focus on and reward small successes, for example, deciding where to look, dealing with bad credit, setting up a realistic budget, and making arrangements for transportation and childcare.

  • Address fears and concerns directly by discussing them with the family.

  • Strengthen the family's sense of self-reliance by assuring them that they have the skills and knowledge to succeed, and that they can help themselves by assuming responsibility for the search process and for fulfilling WtW family obligations.

  • Provide follow-up and support to solve problems encountered during the search process.

Providing Families with the Tools They Need to Search

Before actually visiting units, program participants should have a clear understanding of the WtW program, its requirements, and the PHA's expectations. The family should also think through what they are looking for in a dwelling unit, as well as the surrounding neighborhood.

Before searching, families should have a good sense of the following:

  • Size of the unit needed.

  • Type of unit that best meets their needs and preferences.

  • Family budget, including what the family can afford to pay in rent and utilities, and how choices in location may influence the family budget.

  • Transportation needs.

  • School needs.

  • Child care needs.

  • Shopping needs.

  • Medical needs.

  • Support services.

  • Employment prospects.

  • Recreation needs.

  • Personal preferences regarding housing choice, lifestyle, and location.

  • Which neighborhoods are most likely to meet their needs and to increase their housing, employment, and educational opportunities.

PHAs can provide families with concrete information about particular communities. The information should highlight the community's most important features - affordable rental housing, proximity to employment centers, quality of schools, availability and quality of public transportation, child care, supportive services, and medical and health services. Maps can help families see, for example, the location of schools, churches, and employment centers. PHAs should also refer families to partners or other supportive service providers if the family needs to deal with a particular issue before it can succeed in looking for housing.

Most importantly, PHAs should emphasize the need to start saving for the move immediately. Families will probably have to pay a security deposit, although some landlords may be willing to negotiate payment schedules with families. Other up-front expenses can include cost of moving household goods; costs to cover any damage or cleaning charges in excess of the security deposit in the existing unit; and deposits for utility, cable, and phone hookups. Families moving to higher-income areas (where employment opportunities may be greater) will often face higher security deposits than in high poverty areas and may also experience higher moving costs if distances are greater.

 
Content current as of 4 October 2001   Follow this link to go  Back to top   
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