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Published at Sunday, February 17th, 2019 - 04:59:27 AM. House. By Hamas Charlie.

Writing Haunted House Stories - Building Atmosphere Through Setting : Atmosphere strikes your character with unease. Consider the houses that might be in your neighborhood. You know the one: Its the house that pedestrians cross the street to avoid. Its the house that high school students dare to spend a night, beyond the creaking doors to warily explore the strange whimpers within its indefinable shadows. Even though nothing tangible has actually occurred, your characters are afraid. This fear comes from the atmosphere: The setting that surrounds your house and your characters. Atmosphere is the mood, and that mood should haunt your readers long after the story is over. So where do you begin? Creating a haunted house story is a frightening and daunting task. To make things easier on yourself, establish the date and time from the beginning of your story. If you write a prologue, begin the story with your date and time or, at the very least, give hints to the decade. Perhaps your character is listening to Disco Inferno just before a psychopath sets the house on fire. Perhaps your character is trembling in the shadows, her bonnet is drenched with perspiration and shes praying for her lantern to stay lit long enough to be rescued. This not only establishes your setting, but also gives you a chance to add a bit of dimension and foreshadowing to your story. Haunt Your Readers Using the Correct Word Using the right word can also establish the setting in your haunted house story. Consider this sentence: Beverly Harris walked into the house. Not very creative at all. Theres barely a setting and the action is not very descriptive at all. Lets try another set of words: Beverly, overwhelmed with incipient danger, crept through the doorway. Better. Crept is a stronger description than the word walked. This is an acceptable description that readers would more likely enjoy. But couldnt we write this sentence in fewer and more ominous words? I think we can: The house consumed her. Ominous, descriptive and simple. This causes the reader to feel discomforted; therefore, empathetic which should be your goal as a writer. To make your readers feel what your characters are feeling. Location, Location, Location Your haunted house is a character just like the rest of your cast. It should have a personality. It should draw your characters into it, much like a protagonist is hunting for a villain. It should have a personality and a history. Your protagonist wants something and your house wants something too. So what kind of personality does your house have? Consider the location. It could be a bayou mansion decorated in a French-Creole, or maybe its a simple two-story cabin in Washington State like in Stephen Kings Alan Wake. Perhaps its even more classical such as a fortified castle located on top of a sheer cliff above a sleepy village. Each of these houses should reflect its geographical location, and its personality should be revealed through the protagonists perspective. If your house could speak, would it have an accent? How would you show that? The décor? The architecture? The location of your haunted house defines its personality. Let it speak. Let it lure your protagonist back into its swampy tendrils. Other ways to give your house a personality through the setting is by re-establishing the environment according to how people speak in their geographical region. People in the Deep South speak differently to each other in Miami and people in Miami speak differently than people in Montana. People gossip about each other and every person has a different perspective on life. Apply that to your haunted house. No matter the geographical location, your house has a back-story and people will gossip about it. What they say and how they say it can reveal more of your houses personality. Each time your character hears a story, his or her perspective will change. For example, The Infinite written by Douglas Clegg, some of the characters that stay in the Nightmare House see it as just an ordinary house at first. Once they begin to hear the strange stories, the paranoia begins to take over and pretty soon the house takes on a more sinister appearance. No, it doesnt physically change. What changes is the characters perception of the house. Your house is another character that deserves to be gossiped about. Everyone has secrets; your haunted house does too. Originality is Vital There are already a number of haunted house movies and books that take place in all kinds of environments all over the world. There are literally hundreds if not thousands that take place in a haunted cabin in the middle of the woods. In order for your horror story to survive the cutthroat competition, it must be unique. It must bring something new to a concept that has been done over and over again. Being unique is vital for your story to survive. Creative writers must be flexible. Instead of a haunted cabin in the woodsy Canadian mountains, perhaps your story is about a haunted floating home in the Puget Sound. Or maybe consider moving your cliché southern plantation to the sunny beachfront tropics of Africa surrounded with palm trees, monkeys and deadly spiders as big as a coconut. Originality doesnt have to be that extreme either. Perhaps your setting is in the Colonial American suburbs of Massachusetts but the architecture is ultra-modern. One last thing to consider when choosing an original setting for your haunted house story is the lighting and ambience. Remember that the farther your house is to the equator, the more drastic your hours of day and night become. A haunted house located in lowest parts of South America, for example, will spend at least a full month in total darkness in the winter and a full month of total daylight in the summer. Enter If You Dare H.P. Lovecraft was a master at building atmosphere through setting. He used the description of the landscapes and neighborhoods to give the reader an ominous feeling long before his character even approaches the house. Take this example from The Picture in the House: ... They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles and falter down black-cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities... The haunted wood and the desolate mountains [are] shrines, and they linger around the sinister monoliths of uninhabited islands... But the true epicure in the terrible and unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England... Their strength, solitude, grotesqueness and ignorance combine to form the perfect portion of the hideous. This paints a very sophisticated picture using carefully chosen adjectives and a forward approach. Although H.P. Lovecraft has surpassed the expectation of horror in its finest excellence, award winning author Joe Schreiber writes a more literal description of the Round House in one of his most bone-chilling haunted house stories: No Doors, No Windows: ... It was sparse and plain and narrow, with a curved concrete floor and smooth, almost circular black walls that didnt look as though theyd been painted black but were somehow sculpted out of naturally black material-some substance that literally absorbed light. There were no doors and no windows. Although the passageway appeared to be straight, there was definitely some bend to it, some winding quality just outside the lighters glow. Both of these excellent examples describe the haunted house using atmosphere and setting in different ways. They work well because of the strong word choice and vivid, unnatural descriptions that go beyond the details of how someone would usually describe a house. Joe Schreiber didnt just blatantly say: The room was round. Instead, he painted a picture so vivid that the reader simply got a sense that this room was unnatural and no sane person would enter it -especially if he only possessed a lighter. When is a haunted house not a haunted house? A haunted house isnt always necessarily a house. It can be an apartment or a condo on the beach. Sometimes its a cemetery where spirits of the dead live, work and haunt like in Neil Gaimans novel, The Graveyard Book. Haunted factories, sanitariums, junkyards, prisons, schools, caves and even sewers could all potentially be haunted house stories. All the same rules apply.

Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing : For years, youve worked persistently for long hours yet your pay is just not enough to take care of your expenses. Health care, utilities and rising food prices are barely covered by your wage. Pretty soon, your take-home pay wont be able to keep up with your familys growing expenses. This distressing scenario plagues millions of American families today. Their salaries just cant be stretched enough to adequately provide for housing expenses. If you are a legal United States resident and dont earn enough money to cover rent or mortgage payments, you may want to consider applying for the federal governments Housing Voucher Program, which is also referred to as section 8. What is Section 8? The Housing Act of 1937 provided for financial aid to be paid by the federal government to local housing agencies or LHAs to make the living conditions of low-wage earning families better. Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937, usually just referred to as Section 8, mandates the payment of federal housing assistance to landlords for the benefit of about 3.1 million families with low income. It makes housing assistance possible through various programs, with the Housing Choice Voucher program being the largest, which subsidizes most of the rent and utilities payments of about 2.1 million families. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) manages and funds the Section 8 programs. There are about 2,400 public housing agencies (PHAs) that administer the program locally. A Brief History of Section 8 Section 8 housing had its beginning during the Great Depression. The passing of the U.S. Housing Act by Congress constituted the start of federal housing assistance in the country. It furnished the money to build quality yet affordable low income housing apartments for financially-challenged wage earners. These units are administered and maintained by local authorities. The U.S. Housing Act was revised in 1961 to give way to the Section 23 Leased Housing Program which allowed low-income earners to take up residence in private low income housing apartments leased by local authorities. Tenants agree to pay a certain percentage of the rent, while the difference between the tenants payment and what the landlord would have normally received in the open market. Building maintenance were also performed by the local housing authorities. In 1974, the Act underwent another revision which provided for the creation of Section 8. Rather than build and manage public housing, it aimed to assist low-earning tenants who were allotting the greater part of their earnings on rent payment. Federal funds were now used to pay a portion of the rent in housing units chosen by the renters on the open market. Since then, several more legislations were passed to amend and refine the Section 8 program. The Critical Need for Housing Assistance The 2005 HUD report to Congress stated that the almost 6 million renter families in the country who dont benefit from public housing assistance suffer from worst housing needs. A huge bulk of these families have undergone severe rent burden which HUD describes as paying in excess of 50% of the wage-earners income for rent. Other households made their homes in second-rate buildings. Groups being given priority by Section 8 are composed of low-income households with children, senior citizens and handicapped individuals. Likewise, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have a Section 8 program called the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) which distributes a number of housing vouchers to qualified homeless U.S. armed forces veterans. The Housing Voucher Program The main Section 8 program is currently engaged in the housing voucher program. Housing choice vouchers are locally distributed and managed by public housing agencies or PHAs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provide federal funds to these PHAs to manage the voucher program. A voucher can be project-based which means its use is confined to a particular apartment complex. PHAs may appropriate up to 20% of their vouchers for this. A voucher can also be tenant-based where the tenant can freely choose any housing that passes the criteria of the program and is not restricted to units within subsidized housing projects. The tenant may choose to rent a housing unit in the private sector, is not confined to any particular apartment complexes, and can choose to live anywhere in the U.S as long as the total rent meets the standards established by HUD. This can include living in Puerto Rico which has a Section 8 program managed by a public housing agency. Under the housing voucher program, households or individuals who are eligible for Section 8 funding are given a voucher which allows them to find and rent a unit where they will be responsible for paying 30% of the rent. The housing voucher will pay for the remaining 70% of rent and utilities. Most families pay for section 8 housing using 30% of their adjusted income, which is a familys total earning less the deductions for dependents below 18 years old, senior citizens, handicapped individuals, full-time students, as well as medical expenses and disability assistance. The voucher program is currently subsidizing the rent payment for nearly 2.1 million households in the United States. Whats more, these vouchers can be used at times by low income households to pay the mortgage or purchase a house. Prioritization of Housing Voucher In many instances, your local public housing agency will receive more applications than it can afford to approve vouchers for, and will as a result create a waiting list of applicants. PHAs can move certain applications forward or put them way back of the waiting list, and may choose to grant priority to households who are presently without a home or are residing in second-rate housing, wage-earners who spend more than half their income in rent, or individuals who are displaced against their will. Know more about prioritizing by inquiring at your local public housing agency office. Since section 8 isnt actually an entitlement benefit, people who become eligible for a housing voucher cannot be 100% sure that theyll get one. According to the latest figures, only 1 out of about 4 households who qualify for housing assistance receive it. Waiting lists can take long to be processed. In several places, eligible applicants fiercely compete with other applicants for vouchers. Due to the huge volume of demand, some LHAs have entirely ceased taking in applications. For instance, in New York where rents are exorbitant and oftentimes beyond reach of low-income earners, many households set their sights on section 8 vouchers. Today, as the country teeters toward the reality of the sequestration cuts to the federal budget, it seems that New York City may miss out on up to 6,000 section 8 vouchers that were intended to be made available this year. In Chicago, more than 2,300 households are on the waiting list. Recipients are picked out of the list by a lottery held every month. Only when the list is exhausted will the application process resume. Requirements to Qualify for Rent Assistance Putting these realities on one side, if you belong to a low-income bracket and you require rent subsidy or other support provided by the voucher program, you first need to make sure that you have what is financially required to qualify for Section 8 housing. Whether you qualify or not is dependent on certain factors which include your total household income, how much rent you are paying, the members of your household, the average income in your locality, and your assets. Income requirements differ from place to place, but as a rule you will need to have a total household earning of not more than 50% of the average income in your locality. The program is open to all U.S. citizens and people with legal immigration status. Another criterion is the number of your household members. Your Section 8 income limit gets lower as the members of your household gets fewer. Other factors are also put under consideration by HUD and its local agencies when checking an applicants qualifications. Generally taken into consideration are homelessness and other factors that are linked to a particular location like involvement in a local welfare-to-work program. Other criteria that may help you get considered for assistance are: • presently living in a homeless shelter • working over 42 hours each week • being a veteran of the U.S. Armed Services (widow or widower) • suffering from disability • being a senior citizen 62 years old and over • having children LHAs should also give priority to very low-income households whose total earnings dont even amount to 30% of the average income in the area. 75% of the new applicants that get qualified for housing assistance each year must be near or at the lowest-income level. If you think you have every reason to qualify for a housing voucher, you must go and get in touch with the public housing agency in your locality. You can get all the information you need on the HUD website including local office address, toll-free phone numbers, and email addresses. Dont get yourself fooled by professional con artists. There are fly-by-night agencies that will promise to help you to get all the Section 8 paperwork done for a certain fee. You can get all the help you need to apply for a housing voucher at no cost just by visiting your local public housing authority or your federal HUD office. Bear in mind that no person should ever ask you for money for a low income housing assistance application. Anyone who charges you for a voucher or an application can be arrested for fraud. Obligations Since a public housing authority approves the housing unit of a qualified household, the landlord and the family head sign a lease agreement. At the same time, the PHA and the landlord sign a contract for housing assistance payments that will run concurrently with the lease. This demonstrates that the PHA, the landlord and the tenant all have roles and obligations they must fulfill under the program. 1. Tenant Expect some delays before you receive the final decision on your application. Many applicants can be on the section 8 housing waiting lists for months, or possibly even years. If your application gets approved by the local PHA and you have received a housing voucher, you have to be absolutely sure that your present or future living situation meets HUD safety and health requirements. If you are renting, youll be asked to sign a one-year lease with a willing landlord who will be obliged to provide you with safe quality housing and fair rent. The landlord may require the tenant to pay a security deposit. After the first year, the landlord can draw up a lease renewal contract or allow the household to reside in the unit on a monthly lease. Know how much rent youll be paying. Section 8 housing requires you and your household to pay 30 percent of your monthly adjusted gross income on rent and utilities. The voucher you received will cover the rest of the cost. Visit your local PHA if you need help in determining how much you need to allocate each month. When the household has moved into the new home, each member is expected to abide by the lease and program rules, keep the housing unit in good condition, pay the percentage of rent promptly, and inform the PHA of any changes in family composition or income status. If you need to, you can move to another area without losing your eligibility to Section 8 housing. Just be sure to inform your local PHA ahead of time, terminate your lease according to its provisions, and look for another housing that will comply with HUD safety and health criteria. 2. Landlord The landlords responsibility in the voucher program is to provide tenants with a suitable, sanitary and clean low income housing unit with a fair rent. The living space must meet the HUDs housing quality criteria and must be kept up to those criteria for as long as the landlord receives housing assistance payments. Whats more, the property owner will extend the services that were agreed upon as was mentioned in the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with the public housing authorities. The landlord cannot charge the tenant any extra money except that of the reasonable rent and cannot accept any amount of payment that is outside the contract. Although required to follow fair housing laws, landlords are of no obligations to take part in the housing voucher program. Therefore, some landlords can refuse to accept Section 8 tenants. This may be due to several reasons such as: • Not desiring the government to get involved in the landlords business, as in conducting a full inspection by government workers of the premises for HUDs housing quality standards and the probable redress that may follow. • Concern that the tenant or members of the household will fail to keep proper maintenance of the unit. • Finding that the programs rent price is below the landlords expectation. • Not willing to take matters to court to evict a tenant. According to HUD requirements, judicial action is required to evict section 8 tenants, even if there were other legal procedures allowed. • Depending on state laws, it may be against the law to refuse to accept a tenant just because they have Section 8. Landlords have only past eviction, credit, criminal history and other general means of disqualifying a potential tenant. Other landlords, however, seem to have no beef against accepting Section 8 tenants. This could be because of: • The long waiting list can provide a vast reserve of potential tenants. • Generally on-time payments sent by the PHA for its share of the rent. • Tenants are motivated to take care of the low income housing unit to avoid paying for damaged property. Owing a previous landlord money can be ground for a tenant to be disqualified from the program. 3. Public Housing Authority The public housing program manages the voucher program locally. It provides a qualified household with housing subsidy that allows the family to look for a decent housing unit. The PHA signs a contract with the landlord promising to provide regular housing assistance payments for and on behalf of the tenants. Should the landlord fail to comply with their lease contract obligations, the PHA can immediately discontinue sending assistance payments. The PHA will re-assess the households income and composition for any changes at least once a year and must conduct an annual ocular inspection of each unit to make sure that it complies with HUD quality standards. Research appears to suggest that the section 8 program has yielded a lot of happy and productive results. It helps millions of households live above poverty level, have more money to spend on food and health care instead of rent, and improve their quality of life. It has helped families to move into safer neighborhoods and has reduced the number of homeless people. As a result, it has also lowered the incidences of anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems.



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