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Phoenix offers Section 8 landlords cash incentives and higher rent payments

Since October 2020, Phoenix has spent $2.6 million to financially reward landlords for renting to very low-income residents. Now, the city is boosting rent payments.

Section 8 Housing Choicevoucher holders pay at least 30% of their income toward rent with federal dollars covering the rest. But the government’s portion is based on the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s fair market formula that doesn’t always match current local market conditions. 

Phoenix assistant housing director Aubrey Gonzalez recently told a council subcommittee that Phoenix has increased average rent payments by more than 50%.

“For example, in January of last year, the maximum payment standard for a 2-bedroom unit was $1,377 and with the raised payment standard for this year, the maximum payment standard increased to $2,088 for that same 2-bedroom unit," Gonzalez said. 

Last year, more than 40% of voucher holders were unable to find a rental through the program. Deputy City Manager Gina Montes said higher rent payments should help residents find more landlords willing to rent.

“It really is a recognition of the rapid increase in rent prices,” she said.

As for the $2,000 landlord incentive for renting to a voucher holder, the money for that program is expected to last until June 2024. The City Council approved a total of $4 million from the city’s share of federal COVID relief and stimulus funds.

“The landlord incentive program has paid incentives to over 900 landlords, of which 350 are new first-time landlords to the voucher program,” said Gonzalez.

The city's housing department said it has 7,355 vouchers allocated from HUD. Of those 6,207 had rental leases (as of March 17, 2023) with approximately 500 voucher holders searching for rental units. More than 14,000 people are on the city's wait list for vouchers.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to include updated numbers provided by city of Phoenix.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.