For the first time in nearly five years, the Houston Housing Authority will be accepting applications to be placed on the waitlist for public housing. And so far more than 26-thousand people have signed up.
Application acceptances were put on pause in 2018 because of a “tremendous amount of individuals already on the waitlist,” according to David A. Northern Sr., president and CEO of Houston Housing Authority. Each property and HHA’s voucher program had a long waitlist, and Northern said after they were able to have a smaller amount of people on the waitlists, they were able to open applications back up.
But that doesn’t mean units aren’t going quickly.
“Overall we have about 6,000 hard units in terms of public housing on various programs,” he said. “And that varies based on when people move in and out. We have about 25 or 30 that we’re prepared to turn over and re-occupy.”
But the number of applicants is already “dramatic” according to Northern: over 18,000 applicants as of last Thursday.
“We’ve had long lines of people standing outside, even though we have a number of systems where they can show up at various sites,” he said. “They can come to the main office. They can utilize our number of community stakeholders who deal with housing and homelessness. They can do it online, they can do it on their cell phones.”
HHA is also doing a lottery to select applicants.
“It’s not like you have to line up at 8 a.m. to be the first name on the list,” he said. “We’re taking everybody and the lottery will randomly select what rank a person is, so give everybody a fair chance and opportunity.”
He said that sometimes getting through the waitlist can take years and during that time, many applicants situations can change.
“They may not need housing in two years, or they may not be interested in Houston housing in two years,” he said.
As of now, Northern said applicants should expect a minimum of a year-long wait.
“It’s all about inventory,” he said. “…I can tell you one thing, unless we have no people on the waitlist currently, and we have a tremendous amount of resources ready, it’s probably going to take a year or two, or maybe even more for an individual to receive housing, unless it’s a special situation.”
As of right now, HHA is accepting applications for 10 locations, including Cuney Homes, Ewing, Independence Heights, Kennedy Place and Heatherbrook.