By Cassady Rosenblum
Karen Jacobson, Executive Director of the Randolph County Housing Authority, addressed the Tucker County Commission about a rental assistance program more Tucker County residents can potentially take advantage of. Even though her organization has “Randolph” in the title, Jacobson said, Tucker County residents are also eligible for certain housing authority programs such as the Section 8 Rental Assistance Program. In order to qualify, Tucker County households must be making about $30,000 dollars or less–about half of the median household income in the county– which works out to one wage earner making about $14 dollars an hour for a family of four. Currently, there are only 28 households receiving Section 8 assistance in Tucker County, and 21 of those households are made up of elderly or disabled family members on fixed incomes.
Jacobson said with all the rent pressure in towns such as Davis, she guesses there may be more families who could benefit from Section 8 assistance, noting that the average cost of rent and utilities in Tucker County is $552 a month, although that estimate may have increased in recent years. “That means if you’re making $1,200 a month, you’re spending more than 30% of your money on rent,” said Jacobson–the amount considered to be affordable. “That means you’re not paying for other things like medication, fixing your car, or paying for your kids’ shoes.”
The purpose of Section 8 assistance is to bring people’s rental costs back down to one third of their income, thus freeing them up to make other important purchases for their families. The average amount of rent assistance the Housing Authority kicks in for Tucker County residents is $300 a month said Jacobson, and that it can help young families who she said typically get off the program in about five years.
Jacobson said that Tucker County residents who are interested should fill out a pre-application online, and they will then receive a phone-call from her office. Jacobson noted that one obstacle in the past has been that applicants must provide birth certificates for all the household members. Thus far, that has meant either mailing the birth certificates, or brining them to the Elkins office in person, although Jacobson said she is looking into work-arounds for that problem. The number for the Randolph County Housing Authority is 304-636-6495.