BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
From June 8-15, the Section 8 online pre-application for the New Smyrna Beach Housing Authority will be available for those interested in applying. There will be no pre-applications accepted before or after these dates.
Section 8 is a government program that dates back to the Housing Act of 1937 available to low-income tenants. The most popular program is the voucher choice program, which will pay either a portion of the tenant’s rent or all of the tenant’s rent depending on the individual tenant’s financial situation.
Similar to lottery
Section 8 accepts applications for just a short time every few years. Brian Clark, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of New Smyrna Beach (NSBHA) says that the weeklong pre-application period will last for one week. Pre-applications are only accepted online at the Housing Authority’s website, www.newsmyrnahousing.com.
“We like to recommend that people who are handicapped, disabled or Internet-challenged organize with local libraries to get them to help,” Clark said, who manages the operations of the Housing Authority under U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) directives.
“The wait list will be open for the week and during that time, 24 hours a day, folks can fill out a pre-application.”
The application process will be open the morning of June 8 and close at midnight on June 15.
Clark added that filling out multiple applications would not give an applicant or a family a better chance at being selected by the system.
“We take those (the applications) and remove the personal information and give them a numerical reference and then out of that reference we have a third company randomize and select the recipients,” Clark continued.
For instance, if 8,000 families apply for the program and 6,000 families meet the eligibility requirements, the entire 6,000 will be put through the third party system that will randomly choose who will receive a voucher. The number of available vouchers has not been finalized.
“What we’ve seen is that in the past is that folks tend to think they are first-come, first-serve,” Clark added. “The Section 8 vouchers are so sought after; we’ve seen people lining up weeks and weeks in advance, we’ve seen rioting, just all types of horrible application processes. The way we do it eliminates that. It doesn’t matter if you fill out on the first day or the last day.”
One such riot occurred in January 2013 in Detroit. Reports say the amount of people who showed up looking for assistance at the Wayne County Family Health Services Center heavily outweighed the number of vouchers to be distributed.
According to reports, only 1,000 vouchers were available for distribution. An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people were in attendance.
When it came time for the vouchers to be distributed, police said there was a mad rush for the door, with people fighting to be the first inside the building. Officers tried to control the crowd, but couldn’t. In the end, the program had to be rescheduled with a different approach for dispersing the assistance.
Who is eligible
Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the NSBHA based on the total annual gross income, criminal background, family size, and is limited to U.S. citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status.
During the application process, the NSBHA will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. The NSBHA will verify this information with other local agencies, your employer and bank, and will use the information to determine program eligibility.
To learn more about the Section 8 program and how to apply, go to www.newsmyrnahousing.com.