Some of the High Country's most vulnerable residents are facing major hurdles when it comes to finding affordable housing.
The Housing Choice Voucher, also known as Section 8, is a federal program that provides housing assistance to low-income families, the elderly, and those with disabilities.
According to the Northwestern Regional Housing Authority, there are approximately 925 voucher holders within its jurisdiction, and 392 people are currently on the waiting list for additional vouchers.
The data is part of a study conducted by Bowen National Research.
Overall, the report says there is a significant shortage of multifamily housing in the region.
Todd Carter is with Hospitality House Northwest North Carolina, which helps those experiencing homelessness and poverty-related crises. He says they've had to place some Watauga residents in nearby counties just to meet the need.
“We have housing vouchers that are going to pay their rent. There's nobody that will accept them, there's nowhere for them to live, so they wind up still living, some of those people are living in tents right now, some of them are living in Hospitality House," says Carter. "They have a piece of paper that says I can pay my rent but no one will take it because there's no available housing."
Carter says his organization hopes to grow partnerships with local landlords to open up more placement options.
A series of community conversations have been taking place to address access and affordable housing issues in Watauga County. The final meeting about possible solutions will be held later this month.
Follow WFDD'S Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news