Hawaii Public Housing Authority Opening Waiting List for Vouchers Aug. 16-18, 2016

Excerpts from Sophie Cocke’s “State officials open Section 8 waiting list,” Star-Advertiser, 11 Aug. 2016:

The state’s public housing office is opening up the waiting list for federally subsidized Section 8 housing vouchers for the first time in a decade as Hawaii struggles to reduce its rate of homelessness, which is the highest per capita in the nation.

Housing officials anticipate being flooded with thousands of applications, with demand greatly outstripping available housing units. To restrict the size of the waiting list, the Hawaii Public Housing Authority will be accepting applications for only three days — beginning Tuesday Aug. 16 and ending at midnight Aug. 18.

The online applications will be accessible starting Tuesday (Aug. 16) at hpha.apply4housing.com.

Officials are anticipating that about 12,000 new applications will be submitted during that time, but expect to start handing out vouchers in about 60 days — 50 of them in the first 30 days. Within the first year, between 200 and 300 vouchers are expected to be issued. 

Priority will be given to the homeless, victims of domestic abuse, and individuals and families involuntarily displaced from their homes. The waiting list will be ranked on a first-come, first-served basis — meaning that it’s best for applicants to sign up as soon as possible. HPHA will provide an online application and is encouraging homeless families and individuals to work with local service providers to complete the applications.

The average value of each voucher is about $1,000 a month, said Barbara Arashiro, executive assistant for HPHA, and can cover all or a portion of one’s rent.

Housing officials have been working to encourage more landlords to accept the housing vouchers. Currently about 1,000 landlords participate in the program, a 375 percent increase over the last decade, according to state officials.

HPHA’s Section 8 housing program serves primarily Oahu, with the neighbor island counties administering their own voucher programs. However, the vouchers administered by the housing authority can be used on any island and in any state, according to Arashiro.

The housing authority had expected to open up the waiting list this past November for about two weeks. Ige said Wednesday that the date was delayed to make sure the administrative processes were in place to accept thousands of applications and that there were available support systems to help people apply.

The last time the state housing authority accepted Section 8 housing applications was in 2006. At that time the waiting list had swelled to 15,000 applications. It’s taken nearly a decade to clear that backlog.

There are roughly 7,500 people in Section 8 housing under HPHA’s voucher program.

Getting landlords to accept Section 8 tenants has historically been difficult. In 2014 the housing agency gave out 300 vouchers to the remaining people on the 2006 waiting list. As of October 2015, more than half of the families were still looking for housing, agency officials said at the time.

Currently there are about 29 households that hold a Section 8 voucher and are in the process of seeking housing, according to Keopu Reelitz, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services. She said that, on average, households have 30 days to locate a unit, but can request an extension if additional time is needed.

Read the full article on the Star-Advertiser site.

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(Additional information from the HPHA website🙂
Eligibility

  • An applicant must qualify as an individual or family as defined by HPHA.
  • Head of household must be at least 18 years of age at the time of this pre-application or an emancipated minor by a court of competent jurisdiction, consistent with Hawaii law.
  • Family must have annual income at the time of admission that does not exceed the established income limits at the time of admission according to the maximum income by family size established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (USHUD).
  • Applicant and all adult members of the family must pass a criminal background check.
  • Applicant or any member of the family that has ever been convicted of manufacturing or producing methamphetamine on the premises of any federally-assisted housing or any family household member that is subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a state sex offender registration program will not be eligible for housing assistance.
  • Applicant and all members of the family must provide documentation of social security numbers for all family members or certify that they do not have social security numbers at the time of initial eligibility interview.
  • Applicant and all members of the family must meet USHUD requirements on citizenship or immigration status.
  • Applicant or any member of the family who currently owes rent or other amounts to HPHA or any other housing authority will not be offered assistance until the outstanding balance is paid in full.

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, marital status, familial status, national origin, age, pregnancy, disability, ancestry, or sexual orientation in the access to, admission into, or employment in housing programs or activities.

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