The Alliance Housing Authority provides safe, decent, affordable housing to residents of Box Butte County. AHA was formed by the City of Alliance several decades ago to offer HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) in our community. According to AHA Executive Director Tricia Klemke, AHA provides assistance to 14% of the households in Alliance and Hemingford.
AHA owns or manages approximately $8 million worth of rental properties in Box Butte County and provides assistance to low income households so they can afford to live in these units. Through the Alliance Housing Authority people can qualify for Public Housing or for Section 8 Vouchers. Qualifications are based on income and size of household. People needing housing assistance can complete an application at 300 South Potash Avenue #27 in Alliance.
Public Housing includes 59 units: 49 duplexes in South Alliance or in Lakefield and ten houses scattered throughout Alliance. A person or family must live in an apartment first to prove they pay rent on time and will keep their home clean. They must also pass a criminal background check and can be disqualified for certain types of crimes. The family must pay all utilities and an initial deposit. Rent is figured as a percentage of their income, which is 30% for public housing. Age 62 and older can deduct for medical expenses, and allowances are granted for children or disability.
Section 8 housing offers vouchers for subsidized rent, but people are responsible for finding their own property from private landlords. There are 187 units of housing in Box Butte County (including Good Samaritan properties) that have been approved for Section 8. People pay 40% of their income for rent, and HUD covers the rest up to the fair market rent value of the unit. Right now 124 families are receiving Section 8 rental assistance from HUD.
Rosewood Estates offers moderate income duplexes for people age 55 and older who meet income guidelines. These were built by EXCEL Development through a NIFA grant and tax credits, and qualified people can get Section 8 voucher assistance.
The Alliance Housing Authority has a staff that maintains and inspects all properties on a regular basis. Older units are remodeled, with replacement cabinets, flooring, bathroom fixtures, ceiling fans, and dishwashers being installed. Common grounds like lawns and playgrounds are kept in superior condition, and all the AHA units have attractive exteriors.
Stringent admission and eviction policies ensure that the units are safe places for families. Units are labeled as “Drug Free Zones” and security systems are in place at the South Potash and Big Horn locations.
According to Matthew Desmond’s book Evicted (Pulitzer Prize, 2017), “Most poor people in America do not live in public housing or apartments subsidized by vouchers. Three in four families who qualify for assistance receive nothing. Most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers.”
The Alliance Housing Authority provides an element of economic stability for our residents. What a tremendous asset for Box Butte County!
Over the next few months, the Task Force on Poverty will be presenting more information about organizations and agencies in Box Butte County which deal with problems faced by those who live in poverty. Bridges Out of Poverty will be holding a day-long conference on June 11, 2020, at the Alliance High School Commons. This organization has a global reputation for helping understand the lives of those who live in poverty. Watch for more information as we develop strategies to deal with this all-too-common problem facing so many in our area.