JEFFERSONVILLE – The Jeffersonville Housing Authority is using some federal funding to pay toward rents for residents who are struggling financially during the pandemic.
Jeffersonville was awarded two rounds of funding through the federal CARES Act.
The authority garnered $41,941 for its regular voucher program. That funding is assisting in paying for rent on Section 8 vouchers for residents who aren’t able to pay their full obligations.
Darnell Jackson, director of the Jeffersonville housing authority, said there’s been a rise locally in residents who are having trouble paying their rent as a result of the pandemic. The authority must then step in and pay the property owner and landlord the rent that is owed.
“With that tremendous increase comes a shortage in funding,” he said.
“With COVID-19, we had a number of people who lost their jobs, and, as a result, instead of paying $100, we may have paid $300 toward a person’s rent.”
U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-Indiana, said the federal funding helps with initial problems created by COVID-19 but added that more needs to be done to enable better housing options for residents.
“The affordability of housing, the accessibility of housing, the stability of housing continues to be important to every Hoosier,” Hollingsworth said.
As the economy recovers, the initial focus needs to be short-term assistance for those in need, Hollingsworth said. In the long-term, the nation needs to create conditions that can improve and expand housing stock, he continued.
But obviously. the primary concern during a pandemic is to keep people in stable housing, Hollingsworth noted.
“We’ve got to make sure that we create opportunities for them to get through this period and get back to pursuing their vision for the future,” he said.
The Jeffersonville Housing Authority also received federal grant funds to assist with improving technology to allow staff to work from home when necessary.
A portion of the funds are being used to purchase a kiosk to allow residents to process and upload documents for public housing staff without face-to-face interaction.
“That’s minimizing potential exposure,” Jackson said.
Additionally, federal funding is helping the authority foot costs to provide face coverings for residents and sanitary stations in common areas along with the installation of touch-less hand driers and faucets in restrooms.
The authority is also examining additional ways to help residents, including providing internet connectivity access for all residents and expanding its partnership with T-Mobile to get additional tablets for students.
Hollingsworth said aiding public housing residents, especially with stop-gap funding for rent, improves the chances that people can fight through the pandemic and eventually buy homes. He said Jackson and the housing authority staff are doing an “amazing job” during a trying time.
“I’m a big supporter of the work they’re doing every single day, and I’m also a big supporter of our home-building industry overall and making sure we have the ability to expand supply in Clark County,” Hollingsworth said.