The Orange County Housing Authority’s Section 8 housing program has been listed as “troubled” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for nearly nine months.
The designation was made on September 30, 2016, after the housing authority received a score of less than 60 percent from the Section 8 Management Assessment Program, or SEMAP, which annually measures housing authorities based on 14 indicators, according to HUD spokesman Joe Phillips.
Authorities that score 90 percent or higher are listed as high-performing, 60–89 percent scores are considered standard, and scores of less than 60 percent are deemed troubled. Troubled agencies must submit to monitoring by HUD and work with the federal agency on a corrective action plan. Designations remain until improvements are made to warrant a change.
SEMAP scores a housing authority on measures that cover the selection of tenants, determination of rent and income, housing standards, and inspections. It’s unclear where Orange County lost points in its assessment.
“HUD is working closely with the housing authority by conducting on-site reviews, placing the [OCHA] on a corrective action plan, providing technical assistance, and conducting confirmatory reviews to ensure the [housing authority] has been brought back into compliance upon the completion of the [action plan],” Phillips says.
The Orange County Housing Authority administers a Section 8 program across 623 units, according to HUD. Under Section 8, families and individuals deemed eligible by a local housing authority are given vouchers to assist with rent in any housing that accepts the vouchers. The program is aimed at people who earned 50 percent of the area median income or less.
Orange County’s program, according to its website, is currently not accepting applications, and the wait-list is closed. Other public housing in the county is administered by the town of Chapel Hill, Phillips says.
Orange County’s Section 8 program falls under its Housing, Human Rights, and Community Development Department. The department’s director, Audrey Spencer Horsley, resigned February 13. County attorney Annette Moore is filling in as interim director. A message left for Moore regarding the designation was not immediately returned.