116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - After a nearly two-year hiatus - and for one day only - the program that administers Section 8 and Housing Choice Vouchers in Linn and Benton counties will be seeking applications.
Applications will be available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, at the Veterans Memorial Building, 50 Second Ave. Bridge, in downtown Cedar Rapids, said Sara Buck, housing programs manager with the city of Cedar Rapids's Housing Services Office. Those with disabilities can request reasonable accommodations by contacting the Housing Services office at (319) 286-5872.
Buck said the office hopes to receive as many as 1,000 applications in that 12-hour window to update the organization's waiting list of potential clients.
'The faster we get through that list, the faster we reopen it,” she said.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Housing Choice Voucher program - often known as Section 8 - is the country's major program for assisting low-income families, the elderly and the disabled.
The Cedar Rapids Housing Services Office is capped at 1,265 vouchers, Buck said, but usually averages about 1,100 vouchers with its roughly $5 million budget.
The program serves low-income families - below 50 percent of the area median income - and priority is given to applicants with disabilities, the homeless, elderly or families with children under 18 years old.
As participating tenants turn over and vouchers become available, applications are pulled from the waiting list and checked for eligibility.
Buck said the program - which began administering vouchers nearly 40 years ago - used to keep the list open all the time. But in 2011, when it reached 7,000 applications, the decision was made to stop accepting applications every day.
The waiting list remained closed for about four years to allow the organization time to work through the applications.
'We were spending all this money sending notices out to people trying to see if they're still interested and not getting a lot of response, so many housing authorities began actually closing their waiting lists in order to process everyone on the waiting list and then move forward from there,” Buck said.
In February 2015 the waiting list reopened for a few weeks and brought in about 1,200 applications.
Buck said keeping a shorter waiting list allows the organization to get through applicants in a timely manner, rather than having people wait for years.
'We want to be able to help people as they're in need,” she said. 'Now we're taking less applications, but opening it more often”
Steve Rackis, housing administrator with the Iowa Housing Authority, said the program, which administers housing vouchers in Johnson County and potions of Iowa and Washington counties, has been accepting applications since October 2013.
That region is capped at 1,292 vouchers - 1,215 Housing Choice Vouchers and 77 Veterans Supportive Housing Vouchers - and about 68 percent of voucher holders reside in Iowa City, Rackis said.
The program also gives priority to elderly applicants, those with disabilities or families with children under the age of 18.
The authority's current waiting list has about 1,000 people meeting one of those requirements. There are close to 18,000 total applications on file, Rackis said.