Shoneika Anderson continues to strive for stability in her life since she came to Delaware four years ago.
“When I came to Delaware I was in need,” she said.
When Anderson, 40, transitioned from Columbus to Delaware in 2012, she was in need of a home for her four children. She received aid from Family Promise of Delaware County before getting on the voucher program offered by the Delaware Metropolitan Housing Authority, 222 Curtis St., a year later.
Anderson now rents a three-bedroom house in the city with the DMHA supplementing her rent payments.
“We don’t struggle as bad,” she said. “I hope to one day get off of it.”
Anderson said she’s grateful for the program She strives to make bill payments on time and being fiscally responsible by not frivolously spending her income on products such as brand new Nike shoes.
“You have to budget,” she said.
Anderson said the program is a stepping stone. She started working at a truck stop about two months ago, though has worked at about 10 jobs, most of them minimum wage, since she came to Delaware.
“I’m still getting stuff together,” she said. “I’ve done so many jobs in my life.”
But taking care of her children with integrity is a priority, Anderson said.
“They’re good kids,” she said. “I try to be the best mom I can be.”
Two of her youngest children, Gabby, 12, and Sir Anderson, 8, enjoy living in Delaware.
“It’s a really great place,” said Gabby, who attends Dempsey Middle School. She plans to join the lacrosse team next year.
And Gabby gave plenty of notice to her mom about a trip to Washington D.C., giving Anderson time to save money.
The DMHA provides Section 8 rental assistance for 441 families with a first-come, first-served waiting list of 600 applicants, said Lisa Wellhausen, a leasing agent/fraud investigator for the organization.
Many of the tenants relocate from Franklin County, which receives more applications and uses a closed lottery system, she said. But Wellhausen added that about two-thirds of applications accepted are from Delaware County.
With an attrition rate of about five people per month, the list’ wait period can range from one to two years, she said.
The program serves elderly, disabled and young low-income families, Wellhausen said, and veterans go to the top of the list.
“It’s more of a partnership,” she said. “We just provide the funding.”
With apartment rental high in Delaware, the DMHA works with more than 15 landlords, but are looking for new landlords to join, Wellhausen said.
Tenants coming off the list have trouble finding a place to live. Reasons include the the stigma of the Section 8 voucher from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, she said.
Other landlords may have worked previously with DMHA, but ended the relationship because of a tenant’s misconduct.
“Not everyone is a good tenant,” she said.
The DMHA does conduct inspections for cleanliness and safety. Tenants who fail to meet the criteria of the landlord and the organization are evicted from the program, according to Wellhausen.
“It’s just people,” she said.
In addition, single-parent families struggle to find three-bedroom apartments because there are not enough tax-credit properties to accomodate them, Wellhausen said.
In addition to HUD, the organization receives some support from local government. The city and the county formed a partnership to apply for a Community Housing Impact & Preservation grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency.
The partnership was awarded about $250,000 with the county contributing about $20,000, according to city spokesman Lee Yoakum.
The partnership made an agreement to have the DMHA administer the funds to the aid the federal voucher.
“There is a need for rental assistance,” Yoakum said. “We know the needs exceed the supply … we wish there was more (funds) available.”
For Anderson, who finds strength in her Christian faith, said she’s right where she’s supposed to be at this time.
“I may get there. I may not, but I’m not going to give up,” she said.