City reopens wait list for Section 8 Housing

**Update 5/15/14: Applications are now being accepted. Apply online here.**

The City and County of Honolulu announced Monday it will once again start accepting applications for its Section 8 program that helps low-income families pay their rent.

The city stopped accepting applications in 2005 after 10,000 families had applied.

Now, there are only several hundred people on the waiting list, and thanks to extra funding from the federal government, the city will be able to clear the list and open it up to new applicants.

In order to qualify, you must earn less than 50 percent of the area median income.

Income limits by number in household:

  • $33,550 (1)
  • $38,350 (2)
  • $43,150 (3)
  • $47,900 (4)
  • $51,750 (5)
  • $55,600 (6)

It’s not a completely free ride. People who receive Section 8 rental assistance are required to pay 30 percent of their income toward rent and the government pays the remaining balance.

For example, if someone makes $30,000/year and lives alone, he or she would be required to pay $9,000/year or $750/month. If the landlord charges $1,500/month for rent, then the government would kick in the remaining $750.

The average Section 8 voucher is about $1,000/month and the city currently issues 3340 vouchers a year.

The city will start accepting Section 8 applications starting this Thursday, May 15 at midnight and ending one week later on Wednesday, May 21 at 11:59 p.m. Applications will be accepted online only here.

Only one person per household can apply. All of the applicants will be put into a pool and the computers will randomly select people to put on the waiting list.

“We’re just going to pull batches 200-300 at a time, process, then as the vouchers are available, we can continue to pull,” said Pamela Witty-Oakland, Department of Community Services Director.

Witty-Oakland said even if applicants don’t get on the waiting list now, they may be able to get on the waiting list in the future.

When asked how the department ensures nobody cheats the system by passing down the voucher generation to generation, Witty-Oakland replied: “Well, the current process would allow someone to pass it down to another family member only if that family member was on the original application, and as of today, they’re eligible and there’s only one voucher per household. So there’s no duplication. It’s not just a passing of the torch per se, it’s really a process. Everyone needs to be eligible and qualify. They are annually income-certified, so they must meet income eligibility requirements and so that’s the check and balance and we require social security numbers and other identifiers to verify through the system.”

The selected families will be notified by email or regular mail. The random selection process and shorter list will ensure that contact information is current and also provide more frequent opportunities for families to apply.

For those without computer access, a terminal is available during normal business hours, 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the 842 Bethel St. and Kapolei Hale Section 8 offices. In addition, a number of nonprofit agencies will assist applicants by providing access to terminals during certain hours. For computer access locations, please check the city’s Section 8 website.

The state also has a similar Section 8 program, but the waiting list for that one is still closed.

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