An opportunity to get some much needed housing assistance is about to come available for thousands of local individuals, couples and families struggling to pay their rent.
Tucson's Housing and Community Development department is re-opening the waiting list for its Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, which depending on need would provide access to federal funds to pay for part — or, in some cases — all of a person's rent and utilites.
The list will be open from Dec. 13-15, during which time people can apply for assistance online or pick up a paper application at dozens of locations throughout Pima County. The applications must be turned in by Dec. 15 in order to be considered for the waiting list, and once all eligible applications are verified a lottery system will be used to place the applications on the list.
Editor's note: Brian Pedersen is an employee of the Section 8 Housing office.
The lottery system is being used to make everyone who applies have the same chance of getting assistance, preventing those with disabilities or who turn their applications in at the last minute from being further down the list, Tucson Community Services Manager Ron Koenig said.
"There's no advantage or disadvantage to being first or last," said Koenig, who expects about 5,000 applications to be submitted during the three-day window.
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, a joint city-Pima County venture that is operated entirely through funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, currently provides assistance to about 5,200 clients.
Those who qualify for assistance this time around — Koenig said it's the first time the waiting list has been opened since 2008 — will join about 700 people currently on the waiting list.
"This opening is in preparation for us exhausting the current waiting list," Koenig said.
Online applications (which Koenig said is his department's preferred method for people to use, since paper applications must be mailed and cannot be dropped off in person) will go live on Dec. 13, while paper applications will be available the same day at all 27 Pima County libraries as well as various community centers and the Section 8 housing office, 310 N. Commerce Park Loop.