JC Housing Authority sees high turnover after rent increase - KCTV5

JC Housing Authority sees high turnover after rent increase

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) -

Turnover in Johnson City Housing Authority units doubled last year, increasing the organization’s maintenance costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the Housing Authority, HUD required them to raise rent to better reflect fair market rent. The higher prices sent a lot of residents packing.

The Housing Authority’s maintenance costs were about $400,000 higher last year than usual, because they had to clean and prepare twice as many apartments for new tenants.

Richard McClain, Executive Director for Johnson City Housing Authority, said HUD required the agency to raise rents. “So we increased our rents to match the fair market rent. It’s a study they do each year and they set those fair market rents for each area and they set it for the Johnson City area, so we raised our rents to comply with the rules,” he said.

McClain said a lot of residents with higher incomes saw a substantial increase. “There were some people that had been here a while and they were paying a really low rate for rent, and their rent went up significantly…At that point they had a choice to either move to buy a home or move to some other location, so some chose to leave,” he said.

That meant the Housing Authority was turning over twice as many units as usual, from 10-15 a month to 20-25 a month, increasing maintenance costs.

The higher availability of units means shorter wait lists for people like Lauren Elliott who is moving into her new home this weekend. “We got on the list maybe a month ago, and we actually got in really quickly, I don't know if we just got in at a good time or not,” she said.

McClain said the change in prices has provided opportunities for people who would otherwise not have been able to rent from them. “We were able to serve a lot more people in the city with this turnover, so that was a very positive thing to be able to provide more service to people in our area,” he said.

Elliott agreed the turnover has been a good thing. “It leaves more openings for the people that actually need it, like people who are homeless or people that are disabled, it leaves it open for the people that actually need it,” she said.

McClain said the housing authority was able to maintain a 99 percent occupancy rate even during the high turnover. He also said since the rates went up, they were able to make up much of the additional maintenance costs.

Copyright WJHL 2014. All rights reserved.

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