Disabled Phoenix woman facing homelessness while landlords refuse Section 8 voucher

“Hey, I have to survive. So I have to keep focused and stay positive,” she said.
Keba Hill is disabled and living in Phoenix in motels and women's shelters after her landlord didn't renew her lease and others refused her Section 8 voucher.
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 12:34 PM MST|Updated: May. 5, 2023 at 4:02 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Finding affordable housing. It’s a crisis that’s impacting a lot of people in the Valley. Many are also facing strict deadlines, whether it’s their timeline at a shelter or an expiration date for a Section 8 voucher. The clock is ticking.

Arizona’s Family recently followed Phoenix resident Keba Hill for the morning as she worked making food deliveries. Hill tries to stay busy, working several hours a day doing Uber Eats runs just to survive. She’s trying to make as much money as possible because time isn’t on her side.

“The Section 8 voucher is going to expire in a couple days, on the 9th. I’m in a woman’s shelter. That’s going to expire in another week or two. I’m one step away from living in my van, me and my cat, and it’s like what do I do now, you know?” she said.

Hills says her landlord didn’t renew her lease in December. Ever since then, she’s been in and out of motels, the woman’s shelter, all while trying to find a landlord to take her Section 8 voucher. She’s run into so many roadblocks: fewer housing options, sky-high rents, and just barely making enough to scrape by.

“There’s a lot of people that be in that Section 8 office, complaining. Complaining about the same issue I’m going through,” Hill said. Voucher holders get 180 days to find housing once they’re issued. After that, they expire. City of Phoenix housing officials say it took an average of 114 days for a voucher holder to get into a lease for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. In that time frame, the voucher success rate was just under 60 percent. That means 40 percent of voucher holders weren’t able to use them.

“The voucher success rate is something where all public house authorities pay special attention to any new vouchers that are issued, it is a goal to lease up as many and as many families lease up,” said city housing manager Elenia Sotelo.

The city has tried to boost landlord participation with $2,000 incentive payments to accept these vouchers. The voucher payment was also raised this year to cover more to meet market demand. But there is still a gap. “We have 7,355 vouchers and the number of vouchers leased up can fluctuate about 6,200 of those vouchers are currently leased,” said Sotelo. “So several hundred voucher holders are currently searching for housing.”

Among those hundreds is Hill — she’s at a loss but is holding on to her faith to overcome this situation. “Hey, I have to survive. So I have to keep focused and stay positive. Even though the situation looks bad, ‘Keba keep doing it. Don’t give up,’” she said.

The city says some qualify for an extension to their housing voucher. But Keba fears losing it in just a matter of days and then waiting years to get back into the voucher program.