Tough Economy Sends More to Public Housing - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

ConsumerWatch

Tough Economy Sends More to Public Housing

 By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - "I've been out here since about 7:45 this morning sitting in my car waiting the line has been wrapped around, around the parking lot," says Terricka Townsend.

Townsend is just one the hundreds of people waiting at the Chuck Roberts Activity Center in Phenix City.  Everyone there was in line for a Section 8 voucher.

It's the first time the Phenix City Housing Authority has been able to give out vouchers in more than a year.

"What they're able to do is to get a voucher and go out into the community to various apartment complexes or homes that have owners that support the Section 8 program and we're able to assist those applicants," explains Phenix City Housing Authority Executive Director Judy Hare.

Hare says their office received additional funding for vouchers in July, but first had to exhaust a waiting list before opening it up to the general public.

Hare says 100 vouchers will be distributed, based on a lottery system.

That's about the same number of people who'd already applied by about 10:00 a.m. Monday morning, the doors opened at 8:00 a.m.

"It is long line, and you see mothers with small children and you know it's difficult," adds Hare.

Call it a sign of the times.

"People that would never have thought about coming in to get any assistance, they're having to do that now," Hare adds.

People like Townsend who says despite the long lines, it's worth the wait.

"I lost my job, so I'm trying to come back to my family and just looking for Section 8 because it helps you when you have income and it helps you, you can get into a home and purchase the home with the help of it," says Townsend who just recently found a new job in Columbus.

Hare says the 100 selected for vouchers will be notified via mail and go through a more in depth application process.   Housing authority officials say the economy is also creating a rough cycle for them too.

They now often end up supplementing rent for current residents who have fallen on hard times.  That combined with fewer federal dollars means less money goes toward new vouchers.

On another note, they say their public housing complexes are all at capacity.


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