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Central Texas tenants finding few options for affordable housing

A hot housing marking means many property owners aren't accepting Section 8 applicants, leaving some struggling to find a place to stay.

TEMPLE, Texas — Schenika Burleson is eligible for Section 8 housing assistance, and had a landlord that accepted it for years. But when that landlord sold the property to a new one, she needed a new place to go. 

But in the current housing market, it seems like there is nowhere to go. 

Burleson said she got a list of previous Section 8 properties in the Temple area, but couldn't find anything available.

"Half of them are not willing to participate in the Section 8 program anymore," Burleson said. "A lot of them don't have anything available. Even if they do have something available, they have a problem with the current tenants in them not having a place to move themselves."

Barbra Bozon, the executive director of the Belton and Temple Housing Authorities, told 6 News there has been a lack of housing options for a long time but things are particularly difficult right now. 

"There is a limited amount of apartments available at any given time, and that's not just us. Communitywide, affordable housing is in fairly short supply," Bozon said. 

Bozon said in a hot real estate market like Central Texas where many people are trying to move in, some agencies have actually had to close waitlists for affordable housing because there was nothing available. The Belton and Temple Housing Authorities have only five spaces available, and a waitlist of applicants. They have more than a thousand already-filled spaces in total.  

"We usually run 99 percent occupied," Bozon said.  

Section 8 is a federal program that partners directly with different agencies that assist people with housing. Each agency has a different contract, however, and will have different properties available to connect applicants. 

An applicant looking for a home in Bell County will find different options with the Belton & Temple Housing Authorities (also call the Central Texas Housing Consortium), the Killeen Housing Authority, the Central Texas Council of Governments and any other agency. A person looking for housing options may need to check with all of them individually.