Philly hopes to lure new property owners to voucher program with bonus money

The Philadelphia Housing Authority's headquarters. (Darryl Murphy/ WHYY)

The Philadelphia Housing Authority's headquarters. (Darryl Murphy/ WHYY)

The Philadelphia Housing Authority is offering signing bonuses and free insurance to landlords who join the agency’s housing voucher program.

Amid an affordable housing crisis, the hope is that the incentives will make it easier for families with vouchers to find places to stay.

“It takes more than four months, on average, for a family of voucher holders to receive an apartment, to get it leased up,” said PHA President Kelvin Jeremiah.

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Landlords in Philadelphia have a history of being resistant to taking on tenants with housing vouchers, what’s often referred to as Section 8.

In an effort to change that, PHA is giving $300 signing bonuses to landlords who join the program. They will also get $2,500 worth of insurance for cover damages that go beyond normal wear and tear.

Landlords in “high opportunity areas,” including Center City and Chestnut Hill, will receive $1,000 signing bonuses.

All of this is in addition to the rent money participating landlords would receive directly from PHA each month.

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The voucher program requires voucher holders to pay 30% of the household’s adjusted monthly income. The housing authority then makes up the difference between those payments and the full contract rent.

“It really does offer that stable rental income that isn’t subject to the whim of somebody losing their job or being unable to pay because of a family emergency that may come up,” Jeremiah said.

PHA launched the program last October and plans to keep it running through at least the end of April. In that time, the agency has distributed more than $400,000 in bonuses while adding 400 landlords to its ranks, said Jeremiah.

There are now a total of 5,000 landlords participating in the authority’s housing voucher program.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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