Success Stories

Land of the Sky Association of REALTORS® Uses Housing Opportunity Grant to Boost Landlord Acceptance of Federal Rental Assistance Vouchers

August 2023

According to a recent report sponsored by Land of the Sky Association of REALTORS® (LOTSAR), a whopping 104 federal rental assistance vouchers that were available in western North Carolina’s Buncombe County went unused in January 2023 – not for lack of need, but for lack of landlords willing to accept vouchers.  Not only does this number mean a missed opportunity valued at more than $1.6m in federal funds, but each voucher represents a Buncombe County family or individual who does not have adequate housing; many more remain on a waiting list for federal assistance.

Source of income is not a protected class under North Carolina’s Fair Housing laws, explains Matt Allen, LOTSAR’s Director of Professional Development and Government Affairs.  “Landlords are not legally required to rent to tenants using vouchers and may choose not to for a variety of reasons.  To reverse that trend, we have to identify those reasons, find solutions to eliminate or minimize them, and promote these solutions to entice more landlords to get with the program.”  Last summer, using grant funds from the state REALTOR® association, LOTSAR supported the Landlord-Tenant Partnership operated by Thrive Asheville.  This year, they expanded their effort by securing a Housing Opportunity Grant from the REALTOR® Party that enabled them to become a key stakeholder with the recently launched Buncombe Rental Assistance Collaborative (BRAC), an alliance of non-profits that advocate for vulnerable populations.

The grant is helping BRAC to raise awareness of profitable and low-risk opportunities for landlords accepting federal rental assistance (FRA).  The first step was commissioning the above-mentioned report from Thrive Asheville, entitled “Closing the Gap: A Report on Federal Rental Assistance in Buncombe County.”  “It did a really good job of exposing the extent of the need for safe rental housing in our community, and the waste of unused vouchers,” says Allen.  The grant also supported the creation of, a web-based platform to help multiple agencies and landlords navigate the FRA process.  On it, property owners can learn about features that address common concerns, such as Guaranteed Rent and Security Deposits; the $2,500 Housing Stability Bonus; Damage Insurance Funds (up to $7,500) for Landlord Protection; and Dedicated Navigation Support.

The indemnification feature and signing incentive dovetail nicely with NAR’s current federal legislative priorities, notes Allen.  Educational videos supported by the grant are also in production.

In honor of the website launch, LOTSAR hosted a ‘Lunch and Learn’ for its members, one of whom has become an enthusiastic ambassador of the FRA program.  “She has committed rentals of her own to voucher-holding tenants, and encourages others to become involved,” reports Allen, who adds that LOTSAR plans to host another event this fall.  Tapping further into the expertise and passion for housing among LOTSAR members, BRAC has hired a local REALTOR® to serve as its Landlord Navigator, tasked with creating its public-facing community education and awareness campaign about the new benefits and features, and helping landlords to match their housing units with local residents in need.

On the affordable homeownership front, LOTSAR is using another Housing Opportunity Grant to conduct an innovative project for aspiring homeowners: “We had held a housing fair, and a savvy member pointed out that we would generate better results if we went out into the community to meet people where they are,” explains Allen.  That idea became the Housing Mobility Workshop, which brings members and staff out into the community to events where they provide information on credit repair, the community land trust, and lending practices.  LOTSAR hopes to build the program into a replicable model and use it as a springboard for a partnership with the local housing authority.  “We are so grateful to NAR for the support that allows us to implement ideas and support the values of our members!” says Allen.

To learn more about how Land of the Sky REALTORS® is using REALTOR® Party resources to help its community to increase access to affordable housing, contact Matt Allen, Director of Professional Development and Government Affairs, at or 828.333.5840.


  1. REPLY
    Leslie Morgan says

    Very interesting approach to this gap in Buncombe.

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