Pro: Subsidies help people build toward better life

March 18, 2012 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated March 17, 2012 at 10:18 p.m.

Chrystian Garcia, 4, plays outside Caney Run Estates Apartments where he lives with his mother, Bianca Loya, in government subsidized housing.

Chrystian Garcia, 4, plays outside Caney Run Estates Apartments where he lives with his mother, Bianca Loya, in government subsidized housing.   Amanda Steen for The Victoria Advocate

Bianca Loya and her two children used to live with her parents, but about four years ago she decided she wanted to be on her own.

The unemployed 22-year-old mother receives child support for her children Chrystian, 4, and Laylee, 2.

The application process for fixed-income housing did not take long for her to fill out, Loya said. But the two-year waiting period delayed her and her children from finally being able to move into Caney Run Estates Apartments in the 100 block of South Ben Jordan Street in May 2010.

Caney Run Estates Apartments is subsidized by tax credits, so tenants who fall in a specific income bracket may all pay the same affordable rent, said Housing Authority of Victoria Executive Director Debbie Gillespie.

"It's great being able to be on my own and raise my kids," Loya said. "I pay what I can pay, and my kids don't go without."

Living with her parents made raising her children stressful, Loya said, but she does not want to live in Caney Run Estates Apartments forever.

"I'm looking for part-time employment," Loya said. "I want to be able to get out of here one day and live by myself - just me and my kids."

While many people take advantage of fixed-income housing - living there indefinitely - Loya said she looks forward to the day when she has ownership and personal responsibility for everything around her.

"Right now, I'm paying off my car," Loya said. "I want to have a house and a backyard for my kids to play in."

In the meantime, they can safely play on the playground behind their apartment building and swim in the apartment complex swimming pool.

Eventually, Loya said, she plans to take online classes and study to become an ultrasound technician.

"My parents would tell me, 'Just go for this or for that,' but I want to study for what I want to do," Loya said. "If you don't get a job you like, you won't want to wake up in the morning and go to it."

In addition to housing set aside for low-income families, subsidized by tax credits, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 8 Housing Program assists low-income families.

Eligibility is based on several factors, including the household's income, size and composition, citizenship status, assets, medical and childcare expenses, according to the housing department's website.

"Through Section 8, families are given vouchers to go out and find a place to live on their own," Gillespie said. "Then we subsidize whatever part of the rent that exceeds 30 percent of their income."

A family living in tax credit apartments may still qualify for a Section 8 voucher if the rent exceeds 30 percent of their income, Gillespie said.

Victoria realtor Marco Porras said participation in the Housing and Urban Development project guarantees income to the landlord.

The low income housing and Section 8 voucher programs come with inspections and other requirements to make sure the housing conditions are liveable.

The tenants of low income housing also face regular inspections to be sure they are taking care of the property.

"They don't want you living like a pig," Loya said. "They also check to be sure you have running water, electricity and other things like that."

The Section 8 project through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development does not offer free housing, but determines the amount residents can pay, Porras said. The amount of aid paid on their behalf to the landlord decreases as residents get back on their feet.

"The program has improved over the years," Porras said. "It is helping people to get out and better themselves."



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