With a record number of low-income households around King County struggling to pay the rent, the King County Housing Authority will be re-opening its waiting list for Housing Choice (Section 8) vouchers for only the second time since 2011.
From Wednesday, April 5 through Tuesday, April 18 at 4 p.m., households in need of rental assistance can apply for KCHA’s Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program waitlist. Registration for the lottery is free and available only at www.kcha.org.
The program currently provides rental subsidies to over 11,300 low-income households with more than 28,400 family members in King County outside of Seattle and Renton. Fifty-seven percent of participating households have at least one elderly or disabled member. More than 11,000 children are currently housed with these subsidies, most of which flow to the over 2,500 private landlords participating in the program.
“The region’s extraordinary increase in rents is leaving far too many community members behind. Housing Choice Vouchers – rental assistance ─ is an essential resource for our most vulnerable neighbors – low-wage families with children, elderly households, people with disabilities, and veterans. Without this resource many of these households would be homeless,” said the authority’s Executive Director Stephen Norman. “Having stable housing is critical to other important community issues, including school success for children and better health and reduced health-care costs for seniors.”
According to the American Communities Survey (2011-2015) 47 percent of rental households in King County are considered cost-burdened and pay more than they can afford for housing. During the 2015-16 school year school districts in King County reported 8,486 homeless school children. King County’s 2016 annual point-in-time-homeless census reported over 10,000 people living unsheltered or in emergency or transitional housing on a single night.
The Housing Choice Voucher program enables low-income families to find a home in the private rental market. Generally, KCHA pays the difference between the rent charged by a landlord and the assisted family’s rental contribution, which is set at approximately 30 percent of the household’s income.
The need for this program has far exceeded available resources. In 2015 when the waiting list was last open, KCHA received 22,000 applications from eligible households from which 2,500 families were randomly selected by lottery for the waiting list. KCHA has now served nearly everyone on that list.
KCHA expects thousands of families to apply for the openings. It will conduct a computerized lottery among qualified families to select 3,500 households which will be placed in random order on the waiting list.
How quickly households will be served depends in large part on where Congress goes with the funding of this program. Cuts proposed by the current administration would reduce this program by some 200,000 households nationally over the next year.
The chances of being selected for the waiting list are the same no matter when households apply during the open registration period. KCHA will notify families by the end of May if they are being placed on the application list.
More information about applicant eligibility, free online computer access, or assistance with the application process can be found at https://www.kcha.org/housing/v
KCHA is an independent municipal corporation established under Washington state law. It assists more than 18,000 households in the Seattle metropolitan region. The Authority administers rental housing assistance, develops and manages affordable housing and works closely with community stakeholders to reduce homelessness, improve educational outcomes for the region’s low-income youth and assure that disabled and elderly households can live with dignity.