People can apply for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program beginning Oct. 17

The waiting list for individuals wanting to apply for a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, which has been closed for much of the year, will reopen at 9 a.m. Oct. 17.

The housing choice voucher program is the federal government’s program for assisting very low-income families, elderly and disabled individuals afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market. The City of Albemarle’s public housing department oversees Section 8.

The list will be accessible on the city’s public housing homepage, under Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.

The list was last active at the beginning of the year, when around 400 to 500 people were included, said Housing Assistance Program Manager Darlene Hughes, who oversees the voucher program.

“I had to get those people either off the list or housed, so that process took some time,” Hughes said, noting she had to receive special permission from HUD to extend some vouchers to certain families past the 90-day limit because they were struggling to find homes.

There has been a growing interest of families wanting to be part of Section 8.

“I have people calling me every day, all day,” Hughes said.

Hughes said she will temporarily close the wait list after a few weeks once around 100 people have applied in order to make sure they are eligible before opening it back up. That way there will not be as much of a backlog as there has been in the past.

She is allowed to give out 333 vouchers to families who are eligible for the program. The vouchers can be used for individuals or large families, depending on who applies.

“When you come in for Section 8, one of the initial questions for me is, how many people are in your household?” Hughes said. “Because, based on the number of people in your household, that determines the number of bedroom sizes you get.”

Unlike public housing residents, who live in Amhurst Gardens or Elizabeth Heights, families that are part of the voucher program can choose any housing in the county that meets the requirements of the program, aside from the two public housing communities.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in order to be eligible for the housing voucher, the family’s income may not exceed 50 percent of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. The medium income in Stanly County is between $35,000 to $38,000, according to Public Housing Director Dr. Kim Scott.

Other requirements include a background check and making sure applicants paid their previous landlords on time.

“Our goal is trying to get you to be self-sufficient,” Hughes said, noting many families in public housing often transition into the voucher program.

The waiting list for public housing will reopen in January, Hughes said, which will give time for the department’s new housing specialist to get accustomed to her position. There are currently 196 people on the public housing list.

For more information, people can visit the public housing website or call the department at 704-984-9580 extension 2.