Washington Housing Authority donates beds to kids
Children living in Washington Housing Authority developments will now have comfortable places to sleep after the agency donated 30 new beds to 20 households this month.
The donation came after housing managers identified families whose children did not have beds. In some cases, the children were sleeping on couches, floors and mattresses that did not have frames.
"When we started looking into this, we were looking at it from the aspects of improved educational opportunities and overall health for the children," said WHA Executive Director Vanessa Dunn. "A bunch of studies, particularly one from the CDC, have shown the adverse effects on children who don't receive enough sleep, from childhood obesity to poor performance in school. So we wanted to do just a small part to abate that."
On Feb. 7, staff members from the agency surprised the residents with beds for the children.
"It seems like a small thing, but I like to think it had a huge impact," Dunn said. "One of the kids let me know that he couldn't wait to get home from school and sleep in his bed. It was definitely a worthwhile venture."
While the beds will make a difference for the kids who received them, Dunn says access to affordable housing remains a challenge in Beaufort County. The WHA maintains 383 units across six developments, but has a waiting list of more than 700 applicants looking for affordable housing.
"Our housing is the difference between having a roof and not," Dunn said. "A lot of times, this is folks' last option because they just can't afford market rent. There is an affordable housing crisis across the nation where rents are just exorbitant."
For the agency as a whole, providing decent, safe and stable environments for families is the No. 1 goal. But with a shortage of landlords willing to accept Section 8 housing vouchers, a significant need remains.
"One of the things that would definitely help is landlord participation, especially on our Section 8 program," Dunn said. "On average, since 2005, WHA has lost at least three landlords per year. That shrinkage in the housing market doesn't help those folks who are most vulnerable and at risk of homelessness. Getting the voucher is 50% of it, but then the other part of it is finding somewhere that will accept that voucher."
Landlords interested in accepting Section 8 vouchers can contact the WHA at 252-946-0061, or visit www.whamerha.com. Dunn said her agency encourages landlords to list their properties at www.gosection8.com.