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Housing hold-up in Nashville

Fri, May 25, 2012

The myth among many Americans is that publicly funded housing is easily available to people who experience homelessness, have low incomes or disabilities, or are seniors. But, even though federal, state and local governments pump billions of dollars into housing
programs each year, finding publicly-funded housing is often a process that takes many years and leaves people with a need to find, or create, a temporary solution.
The recent reopening of the application process for one federally funded voucher program in Nashville serves as an example of the complicated state of affordable housing.

For the first time in more than three years, Nashville’s Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) briefly opened up the application process for the Section 8 Housing Choice voucher program designed to help move low-income people, seniors and those with
disabilities into private market residences. In the five days the application process was opened, the agency saw a response so
“tremendous” that a spokesperson from the agency said it was still initially processing nearly one month later.

The length of time since the application process was last opened may also have been a factor in the number of applications received. The last time MDHA opened the window for applications was December 2008, and it was only when the agency reached the end of the wait list, earlier this year, that it planned to reopen applications.

Wait lists are extremely common for the Housing Choice voucher, according to the Web site of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the agency that administers and funds the program nationally.

Gregory T., a 56-year oldveteran and vendor of The Contributor, said he nearly missed the opportunity to apply because he had no idea it had opened up. It was only because he happened to visit a local behavioral healthcare agency where he saw a sign that he found out.

“I seen the sign at Centerstone. I didn’t even know it was open,” Gregory said, adding that it concerned him that he had not gotten more notice due to the short and strict timeframe for applications.

MDHA said it was working on improving communication with potential clients.

Written by: Jesse Call
The Contributor

StreetWise magazine is proud to provide WorldWise content republished by the International Network of Street Papers’ independent Street News Service. This service features stories submitted by the 100+ street papers around the world in an effort to raise awareness for homelessness and bring a voice to the underserved.

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