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Landlord fund proposal could create more housing for low income Delawareans

State lawmakers are looking for a way to encourage landlords to accept renters in voucher programs.

State Sen. Elizabeth Lockman wants to increase the availability of housing for low-income Delawareans by removing an exemption surrounding state and federal housing assistance programs.

Reports show out of every 100 renters with assistance vouchers, only 36 units are available. Lockman says landlords often face difficulties in navigating these assistance programs.

“There’s just incredibly long waiting lists; so long that many of them are capped and we don’t even know the true scope of the problem,” she says. “And so I think some of it is very real barriers that are faced even for housing providers who do consider voucher holders.”

Landlords pushed back against the proposal last year, citing the difficulties in actually accepting voucher holders, as well as unexpected costs that can sometimes take months in court to get resolved.

So Lockman introduced a companion bill this session, which would create a fund to help mitigate costs and lost income for landlords when accepting assistance vouchers.

“Yeah I think there’s differing opinions on just how onerous that red tape actually is,” says Lockman. “But I don’t think that we can say there’s never a situation where a landlord finds themselves in a sticky spot in terms of a delay in getting a tenant in.”

It would create a fund, managed by the Delaware State Housing Authority, that reimburses landlords for expenses related to these types of renters.

Landlords could get funds to cover lost income while going through the public housing inspection process, or reimbursements for damages to a unit above the security deposit.

Lockman says the fund is designed to cut through the red tape landlords typically need to experience in the courts, and encourage them to open up more units to low income renters.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.