‘I feel like I’m a nomad’: Family frustrated by Charlotte landlords refusing Section 8 vouchers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte family is desperately searching for affordable housing after being displaced several times because more landlords are choosing not to accept Section 8 vouchers.

The Section 8 housing program is designed to make homes and apartments more affordable for low-income people by paying landlords a subsidy from the government. But landlords in Charlotte are not required to accept the vouchers.

It’s called source of income discrimination, and even though it has the word “discrimination” in the name, it’s legal in Charlotte.

Despite landlords knowing renters with Section 8 vouchers will pay their rent every month, many do not want to deal with the red tape that goes along with accepting Section 8 money, such as government inspections.

Michelle Marshall says she’s done everything right to qualify for her Section 8 voucher.

Marshall has been living at Ashley Place Apartments in east Charlotte for four years. “But now the landlord … (doesn’t want) to accept Section 8,” she said.

“I feel like I’m a nomad, like I’m constantly having to move,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. We have been in Charlotte for almost 14 years, and we’ve been homeless five times.”

Marshall says she’s finding it difficult to find a landlord who takes Section 8 and has a place large enough for a family of five. “I have called realty companies. I have called more than two dozen apartment complexes. I have been on the phone … This is not a process that I just started yesterday. This has been going on for a year,” she said. “With all the housing that’s being built, why can’t we find affordable housing?”

Her family had a deadline to be out Monday, but Marshall says the apartment complex is letting them stay one more month.

“You put a smile on to keep from crying,” she told Stoogenke. “(But underneath) you’re losing it.”

Stoogenke says landlords have rights when it comes to what they do with their property. But 16 states and roughly 90 cities prohibit source of income discrimination.

Illinois is reportedly considering a bill, which some say would force landlords to accept Section 8 vouchers.

Two years ago, the city of Phoenix started paying landlords $500 to take Section 8 vouchers. City leaders there recently voted to increase the amount to $2,000.

The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute estimates that more than 3,000 people in Mecklenburg County are homeless.

If you or someone you know needs help finding a safe and affordable place to live, click here for our county-by-county-resource guide.

(WATCH BELOW: Property owners struggling to get supplies, affordable housing impacted)