Columbia Housing Authority Opens Waiting List

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COLUMBIA - People looking for help paying rent got their chance Monday when the Columbia Housing Authority allowed residents to apply for housing assistance vouchers. The "Section 8 Voucher" provides people who qualify with monthly checks to help pay rent. To qualify, applicants' yearly income must be at 50 percent of the poverty line or less for their size family.

A single person must make $23,100 annually or less to qualify. A four-person family must have a net income of $33,000 or less. Phil Steinhaus, CEO of the Columbia Housing Authority, said the average yearly income for Columbia residents who stay in public housing or apply for a housing voucher is around $10,000.

Steinhaus estimates that around 200 people remain on the waiting list from the last time the housing authority opened it in October 2010. The housing authority gives those 200 first preference before anyone else who signs up now.

Some people receive priority over others for housing assistance. Those who are 62 years old or older, working 20 hours a week for at least 60 days or qualify as disabled will receive priority for assistance. 

The amount of the monthly voucher depends a number of factors. The housing authority expects people using the vouchers to pay 30 percent of their median family income toward rent and the rest of the rent will be picked up by the voucher. So a family who makes $10,000 a year is expected to pay about $250 monthly for rent on a residence of their choice.

To apply for assistance, visit the J.W. "Blind" Boone Community Center from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Columbia Housing Authority is accepting applications until Friday. Applicants will enter a lottery for a number on the waiting list by pulling a number out of a bag.

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