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St. Louis Housing Authority to pay security deposits of people seeking Section 8 housing

Housing illustration
Kaz Fantone
The St. Louis Housing Authority will provide two months of security deposit aid to help people on Section 8 or applying to the program secure housing. Housing officials say the HUD-funded Security Deposit Assistance Program could help tenants get in a home quicker and help landlords have fewer delays in the rental process.

The St. Louis Housing Authority will pay up to two months of security deposits to help people who are applying for Section 8 or those who have housing vouchers get a home.

St. Louis housing officials implemented its Security Deposit Assistance program earlier this month to help many low-income families struggling to pay security deposits.

Some families have a hard time coming up with two months' extra rent on top of their monthly payments, which can slow down the rental approval process, said Alana Green, executive director of the St. Louis Housing Authority.

“This program will help them to immediately be able to access new units, instead of waiting and maybe sleeping on a couch at a family member's house, they'll be able to get in their own house, or their own unit a lot more quicker than they would have normally,” Green said.

The housing authority will use $250,000 of its federal housing funds to pay for the six-month pilot program. The funds will help provide security deposits to families on Section 8 or those applying for the program.

With monthly rents rising because of inflation, security deposits for families can range between $1,200 and $1,500, housing officials said.

The security deposit program aims to reduce the many barriers to obtaining adequate, affordable housing. People with poor background and credit checks often have to pay higher deposits, said Connie Johnson, director of the housing authority’s Section 8 program.

“Security deposits can sometimes be a barrier, and this is a good fit for our clients who see that they are in need of assistance,” she said.

Housing officials will prioritize applications from those who are experiencing homelessness or in a domestic violence relationship and those who are required to relocate because of unsafe housing conditions or a disability.

The housing authority also is offering financial incentives to private landlords who sign up to participate in its Section 8 program. Landlords can receive a $500 signing bonus, and the housing authority will pay an additional $500 to landlords who rent to people with housing vouchers in high-opportunity areas. Officials also will pay landlords up to $3,000 in excess damage reimbursements to repair damage caused by the tenant that is beyond normal wear and tear and exceeds the security deposit.

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.