Freeze on RRHA vouchers affects 163 families

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Dozens of Richmond families struggling to make ends meet are looking for answers. They were recently cut from a federal program to help them pay their rent.

The Richmond Re-development and Housing Authority ultimately made the decision to freeze the voucher program.

Lovanne Sharif, 55, signed all the paperwork and was about to get her first voucher for her rent, when the program bottomed out.

Sharif has been homeless: "It was one of my worst fears. I always said I never want to be homeless. I never want to be homeless."

She's now back on her feet and in her own apartment with her 15-year-old granddaughter Malika.

But once Sharif moved here, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and is unable to work.

She's on disability, a fixed income.  Right now 80 percent of that money goes to rent.

"I'm at the point where, if I'm forced out that means I have to give up my granddaughter. I've had her since she was four. I don't want to separate my family," Sharif said.

Sharif was about to get a housing voucher through the RRHA. It would have meant breathing room, but the program fell through.

"Right now I'm just going day by day. My faith has me believe that it will go through. Something will happen," she said.

"For her, paying 80 percent of her income to rent the voucher would have been a god send. It would have helped her buy other things like food and medicine and the exercise that she needs to stay healthy," said Candice Street.

Street is with Virginia Supportive Housing, the program that helped Sharif get out of a shelter and into this home. She's had 12 families lose a chance at a lower rent, because of the freeze.

"It's scary for us the families that can't pay their rents now we're having to work with community groups and churches to try and find some assistance for them," Street said.

Both women are now hoping Congress provides more money for the program to keep Lavonne and others off the street.

"It's all in the Lord hands - I'm keeping it in prayer and it's the grace of God that we're making it right now. Cause it's difficult now," Sharif said.

The RRHA met with the families affected by the freeze on rent subsidies today at the Calhoun Family Investment Center.

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