NECAC changes rent assistance policy - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

NECAC changes rent assistance policy

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Sign indicates location of Northeast Community Action Corporation. Sign indicates location of Northeast Community Action Corporation.
Pamphlet for Missouri's Landlord-Tenant law shows a for rent sign. Pamphlet for Missouri's Landlord-Tenant law shows a for rent sign.
HANNIBAL, Mo. (WGEM) -

A Missouri agency is cracking down on drug users and violent criminals using government assistance.

Many residents in northeast Missouri go to North East Community Action Corporation to get help paying their rent. However, soon some won't be able to use the service and a local organization doesn't think it's a good idea.

Starting October 1, those seeking vouchers from the Section 8 Rent-Assistance program through NECAC will now be subject to mandatory background checks.

"We want people who go out into the community with these vouchers to feel like they can find a safe adequate place to live," Public Relations Officer Brent Engle said.

Officials say those charged or convicted of violent or drug-related crimes in the last five years could see their assistance terminated.

"If you do have a criminal record, we don't want you in this program," Engle added.

However, Jamie Grady with Avenues, a local domestic and sexual violence advocacy center, says it could have a big impact on those she works with.

"Mainly victims of domestic violence will turn to illegal substances as a coping mechanism to deal with the violence they're experience," Grady said.

Potentially leading to a higher chance of committing drug crimes and cutting down on clients from the shelter who can use the program.

"It's going to be difficult," Grady explained. "It's going to make a process that's already difficult even more difficult."

The change only impacts new applicants or those who require a change in their vouchers. NECAC says they'll consider all credible evidence before removing a client from the program and they're not turning them away from all programs.

"We do have programs at NECAC that will help you get back on your feet in other ways," Engle explained.

Grady feels this is the one program many need most.

"The longer people stay here, the longer it takes them to get back on their feet," Grady explained.

NECAC told me the wait list for the vouchers is closed and they don't expect the change to impact many residents currently enrolled. Avenues officials told me there is apartment housing in the area that will not limit access based on substance abuse issues

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