Sunday, July 17, 2011

Americans in Need of Housing

Housing Vouchers Are the Gold Pot at the End of the Rainbow?

As reported widely in the national news, thousands showed up in Dallas County Texas to get a spot on the waiting list for a housing voucher. For those who do not know a voucher will allow the household to pay only 30% of their income in rent and utilities and thus making housing affordable. The Dallas Morning News accurately described this as a sign of the instability in housing across the country.
"When, at 6 a.m., officials said it was time to form a line, a frantic rush ensued — the latest sign of people’s desperation for help in tough times. There were no serious injuries, but video footage of the chaos received national attention," wrote Kim Horner of the Morning News.
There were 5,000 who showed up in person and another 21,000 applied on line to get a space on the waiting list. Dallas had not opened up the waiting list for the last five years. The agency will select 5,000 of the names to be on the waiting list going forward.

In Parma Ohio earlier in 2011, they have a local housing authority that received over 20,000 applications for a couple of hundred vouchers using an entirely paper system. In Plano Texas, 8,000 people applied for 100 available housing vouchers. In Cincinnati, the Hamilton County Housing Authority did an entirely electronic application process and 19,000 people applied over one week for a 5,000 person waiting list. All of these numbers show a huge demand for housing in the United States.

Cleveland opened its waiting list back in 2006, and 40,000 people applied for 10,000 people on the waiting list. In Dallas county, they only have a total inventory of 3,800 households utilizing the vouchers. Cleveland has over 13,000 vouchers utilized throughout the county. The big news is that August 15 to August 19, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority will be opening their waiting list. We will be able to see how many people show up in need of housing during that week. We will only have electronic applications available, so that could keep the numbers down. The application will only be available online for that one week, and for the first time locally there will be no paper applications.

The Coalition and the Cleveland Tenants Organization will be available to help people with applications or they can go to a number of shelters or any library in the area. People should continue to check the CMHA website for details. The information will be available after August 1 for more details. It will be critical to get every low income household to apply for the voucher lottery, because the next opportunity will not be until 2016 or 2017 if we continue to have such a limited housing resource in the United States.

We should collect all these stories about the near riots in various cities, and the overwhelming number of people who need help with housing. It is a nationwide problem that was compounded by the financial downturn and the mortgage foreclosure crisis. HUD Secretary Donovan, Speaker John Boehner, Rep. Eric Cantor and Senator Harry Reid are you reading all these stories about the housing crisis in America?

Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless
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