VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 4 POSTED ON: 2/9/2013
News about the SHA Housing Choice Voucher program · Published quarterly for landlords & service providers www.seattlehousing.org Please use our landlord survey units with us, some neighborhoods are underrepre- to tell us what you think sented in the for-rent lists we publish and in housing the mission of Seattle Housing Authority is voucher-holders. We want to learn whether percep- “To enhance the Seattle community by creating and tions of the Housing Choice Voucher program and its The Bulletin sustaining decent, safe and affordable living environ- participating tenants may play a role in a landlord’s ments that foster stability and self-sufficiency for people decision whether or not to advertise with us. With with low incomes.” that in mind, we’ve created an online survey, and we We need and depend upon private landlords to invite you to respond to it. provide such housing for participants in our Housing The survey is posted online and will remain there 1 Choice Voucher program. for several months. Please take a few minutes to Studies have shown that the most stable com- complete it. December 2010 munities, the most stable neighborhoods, are those Do you have colleagues who own rental properties that are most diverse. In particular, this means that but who are not presently renting to voucher-holders? low-income families are not concentrated in any If so, please encourage them to take the survey, too. given neighborhood. A stable and healthy neighbor- We’d like to hear their impressions of the program, hood will have a mix of income levels and of hous- and to learn why they may not be participating. ing—privately-owned homes as well as market-rate The survey can be found at and affordable rental housing. This is the model www.surveymonkey.com/s/HCVLandlordSurvey Seattle Housing Authority has followed and created in You can also link to the survey from our website, redeveloping the NewHolly, Rainier Vista, and High www.seattlehousing.org. Point communities, and which we’re following now We will look to the completed surveys to help in developing Lake City Village and in our plans to shape policy and procedures changes, and to improve redevelop Yesler Terrace. our delivery of services to landlords and tenants alike. Our Housing Choice Voucher program gives every We will summarize and write up your responses in family that receives a voucher the ability to rent a the next issue of The Bulletin. privately-owned market-rate home in whichever Seat- If you have questions about the survey, please con- tle neighborhood they choose. Despite this flexibility, tact Mike Jung, owner liaison, at (206) 239-1672 or via many of our participating families remain in higher e-mail to email@example.com. poverty areas even after they receive a voucher. * * * Although we encourage landlords who own rental i will be reading with keen interest your properties in all neighborhoods to list their vacant responses to the survey. I always like hearing from landlords, and I’m especially appreciative of sugges- tions for how we might improve our administration In this issue of the voucher program. If I may answer any ques- We’ve devised a survey of our landlords, and would tions, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. appreciate your taking a few minutes to fill it out 1 Regards Landlord workshops resume Feb. 15; update on direct deposit of Housing Assistance Payments 2 Fair Housing: Steer clear of holiday troubles 3 Lisa Wolters Inspectors’ Corner: Documenting your lease enforcement director of housing advocacy actions helps us help you 4 & rental assistance programs (206) 239-1523 Next Landlord Workshop coming February 15; response to direct deposit of HAP checks entirely positive Landlord Workshops expand topics, will be conducted in new venues citywide We’re always looking for new landlords to expand Seattle Housing has been offering free Housing Choice the range of housing available to voucher-assisted fami- Voucher workshops for landlords for many years now. lies. If you know of colleagues who don’t currently rent These workshops are held the third Tuesday of most to voucher-assisted tenants, please suggest that they months from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. Our next workshop take a few hours to attend one of our workshops to find will be Tuesday evening, February 15 at a location to out more about how partnering with Seattle Housing The Bulletin be announced—possibly at the Beacon Hill branch can reduce vacancy loss and provide stable cash flow to of the Seattle Public Library. (We’ll confirm this in an their business. enclosure with the February HAP checks or payment If you would like to receive e-mail updates about advices.) upcoming workshop topics and locations, please e-mail Over 100 people attended these workshops during firstname.lastname@example.org. 2 2010, and we are looking forward to reaching even more landlords in 2011. Direct deposit of HAP checks December 2010 We’ve covered many topics over years, including overviews of the Housing Choice Voucher program, Last spring Seattle Housing began the process of con- exploration of the Housing Quality Standards inspec- verting our handling of monthly HousingAssistance tions, how to work with Seattle Housing to resolve Payment checks to you, our landlords. While we pride conflicts with tenants, and ways to find tenants in a ourselves on mailing these out like clockwork, we’re tough rental market. excited about this new initiative, which allows us to We’ve invited investigators for the City of Seattle deposit payments directly into your bank account. Office of Civil Rights to discuss Fair Housing issues and Over the past several months, we invited each of you how to manage your business in a way that minimizes to sign up for direct deposit. allegations of discrimination. So far, more than 550 landlords, or more than one- Representatives from Solid Ground, a local non- quarter of all currently participating landlords, have profit that provides assistance to low-income renters completed the paperwork, and their HAP payments and homeowners who are struggling in this economy, are now deposited directly. They’re mailed a remittance discussed ways to deal with tenants struggling to stay advice about every HAP payment. current on their rent and utility bills. Extensive feedback from participating landlords For the past three years we have also partnered with has confirmed that the vast majority of landlords are the Seattle Neighborhood Group to offer a full-day receiving their HAPs by the second of the month, or training for landlords who work with (or are interested possibly a day or two later if the second falls on a week- in working with) voucher-assisted tenants. end or holiday. We believe this corresponds very well to We’ve also been holding workshops in new locations when landlords would have access to their money after across the city. We have a suitable facility at our Porch- cashing our check—without the hassle of having to go light Building, in Ballard, but it’s not convenient for to the bank and the risk of having checks lost or stolen. all landlords. We recently held workshops at the New Our plan is to go paperless, eventually, with all Holly branch of the Seattle Public Library and at Seattle landlords receiving HAPs by direct deposit and with Housing’s maintenance facility on MLK Jr. Blvd. We’ll payment advices (and The Bulletin) sent electronically. be holding workshops in additional locations around This move to direct deposit is fueled by our desire to the city in 2011. provide better and faster service to you and to reduce Those of you who take our landlord survey [see p. 1] our costs. will be able to provide feedback on our workshops. We If you have questions about this opportunity, or if want your suggestions regarding more convenient times you’d like to receive an invitation, please contact Mike and places for workshops, and we’d like to learn what Jung, owner liaison, at (206) 239-1672 or via e-mail to additional topics you’d like us to cover. email@example.com. Chistmas and other holiday decorations and celebrations are fine; just stay away from overtly religious symbols. Keeping clear of Fair Housing laws Q :: During the holiday time, we like to put up Christ- parties mas decorations. Some of the residents have com- Holiday parties are a common occurrence in the plained, saying this violates their religious rights. Is it workplace. Similarly, a housing provider may host a okay for us to put up our tree or display? holiday party for the residents. And Santa Claus can pay Yes. At the holiday time of year, many housing a visit. providers put up displays in The Bulletin use of common rooms common areas. For public Many apartment buildings housing funded by HUD, have a common room that the Department’s policy is can be reserved by residents not to discriminate against for such private activities as people of faith by barring parties or book discussions. 3 the use of religious symbols In such a case, residents seek- to celebrate faith-based December 2010 ing to hold a Bible study or events. HUD also notes that other private religious activ- religious displays as well as ity may not be discriminated non-religious symbols are against. permissible in common no preferences areas of public housing sites, In considering issues and the same opportunity around holidays and religion, must be made available to housing providers must avoid people of all religious faiths. expressing religious prefer- Thus, during the Christ- ences or imposing religious mas and Hanukkah seasons, requirements. For example, it housing providers may display a Christmas tree (or would violate the Fair Housing Act to require tenants trees) and a Hanukkah Menorah, along with other to decorate their homes for Christmas. nonreligious seasonal decorations. Similarly, for ex- ample, during Easter, it is perfectly fine to display Eas- advertising ter bunnies, baskets and colored eggs. However, such Advertisements containing such descriptions of overtly religious symbols as nativity scenes should not properties as “rental community with chapel” or “ko- be displayed. sher meals available” or that mention, say, “services on premises,” do not on their face state a preference for holiday references applicants, and are not violations of fair housing laws. HUD guidance states that “The use of secularized Advertisements that use the legal name of an entity terms or symbols relating to religious holidays, such that contains a religious reference (for example, as Santa Claus, Easter Bunny or St. Valentine’s Day Roselawn Catholic Home), or those that contain a images, or phrases such as ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘Happy religious symbol such as the Star of David, may imply Easter,’ or the like, does not constitute a violation of that management has a preference for residents of a the [federal Fair Housing] Act.” particular religion – which isn’t allowed under Fair what about private decorations on Housing laws. However, if such an advertisement hallway doors? includes a disclaimer, it will not violate the laws. According to an example on the website of the U.S. (For example,“This facility does not discriminate on Department of Justice,“If people are permitted to put the basis of age, marital status, race, color, religion, decorations on their apartment doors, religious indi- national origin, sex, sexual preference, handicap or viduals should be able to put religious items or decora- familial status.”) —c ourtesy king c ount y tions on their doors, such as a…mezuzah or a cross.” office of civil rights Seattle Housing Choice HOUSING AUTHORITY Voucher Program Inspectors’ corner Why make me pick up a tenant’s broken bottles? Porchlight Building Assigning responsibility for damages to a rental unit 907 NW Ballard Way, Suite 200 can be a real headache. Washington landlord/tenant Seattle WA 98107–4637 law uses “normal wear and tear” as the threshold for E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org holding tenants accountable. Does your former tenant Fax 206.239.1770 need to replace a 15-year-old carpet when they move www.seattlehousing.org The Bulletin out? No. But if the carpet is only one year old and has geNerAL queSTIoNS been damaged beyond cleaning, the tenant may well To speak with a customer service agent about any be responsible. Housing Choice Voucher program issue, The courts have mechanisms to resolve disputes call 239.1728 and press ‘0’ between landlords and tenants about who is respon- 4 sible for what. Seattle Housing has no legal authority To L I S T AVA I L A B L e u N I T S Call 239.1663 or go to to make such a determination, so even though your www.seattlehousing.org December 2010 lease may spell out clearly that the tenant is respon- and click on ‘Rental Listings’ under the ‘Landlords’ menu sible for maintaining the yard around your rental o W N e r I N F o r M AT I o N house, if the yard has broken bottles or other hazards Note: Changes must be submitted in writing when we conduct an annual inspection, we’re going Fax 239.1770, attention Mike Jung to ask you to take care of the problem. Questions? Call Mike at 239.1672 Does this mean that we require owners to assume H o u S I N g C H o I C e V o u C H e r P r o g r A M M A N Ag e r responsibility for tenant-caused problems? Not at all. Barbara Strayer 239.1620 What our Administrative Plan says is, If the owner believes the tenant is responsible for…damages to oWNer LIAISoN the unit…beyond normal wear and tear, the owner must enforce Mike Jung 239.1672 the lease terms to hold the tenant responsible for restoring HQS, including paying for necessary repairs. If…the owner provides o CC u PA N C y S u P e r V I S o r S SHA with documentation of the lease violations and the owner’s ‘Aa’ through ‘Malerba’ 239.1619 own steps to enforce the lease, SHA may terminate assistance to ‘Malf’ through ‘Zz’ 239.1636 the family for failure to satisfy a family obligation under the pro- Mod Rehab & Project-based 239.1649 gram. —“Owner/Family Responsibility for HQS” [24 CFR 982.404, 982.54(d)(14)] NeW MoVe-IN TeAM So by copying us on lease enforcement notices, you Status of tenancy approvals—contracts and leases can help us hold our participating families account- ‘Aa’ through ‘ Lara’ 239.1676 able, and place the focus of attention on your tenant ‘Larb’ through ‘Zz’ 239.1635 rather than on you. New move-in team supervisor 239.1621 Some items that might fall in this category include New move-ins fax number 239.1760 putting batteries in smoke detectors, restoring the unit INSPeCTIoNS to a sanitary state, and replacing broken windows. Annual inspections & reinspections 239.1645 New move-in inspections— Whatever the issue, the critical piece is documen- ‘Aa’ through ‘Lara’ 239.1676 ‘Larb’ through ‘Zz’ 239.1635 tation. Without documentation of your efforts to Judy Huertas, HQS supervisor 239.1621 enforce your lease, we have no choice but to hold you responsible for making repairs—and this can lead H o u S I N g q uA L I T y S TA N D A r D S I N S P e C To r S to abatement of the Housing Assistance Payments. Bill Francis 721.1457, ext 10 Paul Gimmi 239.1632 To pass inspection, then, you may have to correct Sue Nigg 239.1639 tenant-caused damage yourself or at your cost (and Jonathan Shibuya 239.1616 Jason Shirley 239.1646 bill the tenant for the work). Nancy Shutes 770.6880 —nancy shutes Lora Wait-Hoy 721.1457, ext 11
"Inspectors corner - Seattle Housing Authority"