Local News

Living Choices Forcing Housing Authorities to Revamp or Raze Complexes

Posted July 22, 2001

— Government vouchers that let poor people choose where they live is putting some urban public housing authorities in the red.

Residents of Wilmington's public housing complexes are fleeing some of the country's oldest taxpayer-financed apartments.

The Wilmington Housing Authority has run a budget deficit the past two years, partly because it didn't receive the rental income it expected. The deficit for both years topped half a million dollars.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development expects vacancy rates in public housing no lower than 3 percent. Vacancies at one Wilmington project built 60 years ago are running about 20 percent.

Officials say far more people who need housing help are asking for vouchers under the government's Section Eight plan, which pays most of the rent for an apartment or house on the open market.

Wilmington is considering asking the government for permission to flatten old public housing projects, just as Raleigh and Charlotte have done, and build new single-family homes and apartments that aren't so densely packed.

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