On a webinar in August 2021, Equifax and the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) co-presented a discussion on the transformative power of data to serve consumers in need and government agencies working to serve those consumers.
Chrystal Dawson was one of the speakers, who spoke about how her public housing authority (PHA) uses data to prevent public fraud and help disadvantaged tenants in Kinston, North Carolina. Ms. Dawson is the property manager with the Kinston housing authority, a town of about 28,000 people, southeast of Raleigh, near the Carolina coast; a city with a 27% poverty rate and seasonal factory employment as the dominant source of income in the city. Dawson said the uses automated tools, like those provided by a private data company, Equifax, to obtain real-time income information to help determine income eligibility, well ahead of what HUD provides to the Kinston public housing authority.
Another benefit of automated tools provided by the private sector, like Equifax, is the ability to assist PHAs in screening their waiting lists. Federal law prevents a family receiving Section 8 housing assistance from paying more than 40% of adjusted monthly income for rent when the family first receives voucher assistance in a particular unit. Equifax offers tools to allow PHAs to periodically screen waiting lists for eligibility under the Section 8 program. This service allows housing authorities to admit only those that made the extremely low-income limit to fill the first 40% of those expected vacancies in the property, or they can use a method of alternating between extremely low-income applicants and then select the next eligible applicant currently on the top of the waiting list. This helps those housing authorities to maintain the right mix of those low-income tenants to keep Section 8 compliance.