PHOENIX - The City of Phoenix has opened up its waitlist for a program that is also known as Section 8.
Under the Housing Choice Voucher program, low-income residents and families who qualify are provided with rental assistance. This is the first time since 2016 that the program has opened up to new applicants.
Here's what to know about the program.
How does the program work?
According to the City of Phoenix's website, the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program helps provide "safe and decent affordable housing" for low-income individuals and families.
"Program participants pay at least 30% of their monthly income toward their rent to a private landlord of their choice, and the program will pay the landlord the remaining balance of the rent," read a portion of the website.
The portion of rent tenants under the HCV program pays, according to the city's website, is determined by the city's housing department.
What's the application process like?
The 15-day window to submit a pre-application for the program began on Sept. 12, and will end at 7:00 p.m. on Sept. 26, according to the city's website.
The pre-applications, according to a statement released by Phoenix city officials, can be submitted by e-mail, fax, or physical mail. They can also be submitted in-person or online.
City officials say the pre-applications can be submitted in multiple languages. A look at the application page shows application options for English, Korean, Spanish, Swahili, and Vietnamese, in addition to Simplified and Traditional Chinese (listed as "Mandarin" and "Cantonese" on the website, respectively).
Applications will later be randomly chosen from the pre-application pool, and then placed on a waitlist. After that, there is another waitlist to determine eligibility.
With tens of thousands of pre-applications expected to be submitted, it could take several years before those who are qualified can receive the financial help. In fact, Phoenix city officials say many of those who submitted a pre-application for the housing choice voucher program in 2016are just now in the final stages of the application process.
"In 2016, we had about 27,000 pre-applications submitted," said City of Phoenix Housing Manager Elenia Sotelo. "Here we are, seven years later, we anticipate that final list to conclude this fall. So that is the reason why we have opened the pre-applications to accept more applicants for the waitlist."
Who's eligible to apply?
On their website, Phoenix city officials say while there are no eligibility requirements for pre-application submissions, the city will verify full program eligibility when applicants are selected from the waitlist.
While the city did not list eligibility requirements on their website, many of those who have submitted a pre-application say they struggle with work and their disabilities.
"I consider myself very fortunate," said a person in the HCV program, identified only as 'Juanita.'
"My diabetes. I have medical issues with my feet. My eye," said an applicant, identified only as ‘Augustine.' "I'm trying to get into a program. It's kind of hard to get into this program, but if you get into it, it's good for you, you know what I mean?"
Is there a cost to apply?
There's no cost to apply for, or to receive a voucher under the HCV program, Phoenix city officials say.
How many people are on the waiting list right now?
Currently, there remains about 2,000 people who have been on the waiting list since 2016.
Meanwhile, Phoenix housing officials say 7,300 vouchers have been allocated to the city due to federal funding. That number includes people who are already in the program.
The opening for pre-applications came amid rising rent since the last pre-application period. According to rentcafe.com, the average cost to rent an apartment in Phoenix is just under $1,600 a month currently, but in 2016 the average was about $1,000 a month.
How do landlords rent out their home(s) to those in the HCV program?
According to the city's website, landlords have to complete a Residential Rental Property Registration Form at the Maricopa County Assessor's website.
After the registration is approved, the City of Phoenix's website states that landlords can advertise their vacant units on housingsearch.az.gov, or place ads in local newspapers or rental magazines.
City officials state that they can only refer those in the HCV program to where listings can be found: the tenants themselves are responsible for finding their own housing.
"As a Section 8 owner or landlord, you will rent to families in the Section 8 Program just as you would rent to families without the benefit of a housing subsidy. You sign a contract with the city of Phoenix Housing Department and a lease with the tenant. Your relationship with the tenant is virtually like the open market," read a portion of the city's website.
Housing Choice Voucher Program Pre-Application