Chandler is using lottery for housing vouchers The Chandler Arizonan

Chandler is using lottery for housing vouchers

Chandler is using lottery for housing vouchers
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Arizonan NEWS STAFF

 

The city of Chandler is changing how it determines which families will receive vouchers to pay for affordable housing.

Local applicants seeking Section 8 vouchers handed out by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will now be randomly drawn and placed on a waiting list. 

In the past, applicants were ranked in chronological order based on when they applied. 

The former method resulted in families camping outside city buildings so they could be first to apply, according to Chandler Neighborhood Resources Director Leah Powell.

The new lottery system is meant to “level the playing field” among applicants, she added and revamps the application process to be more accessible to residents.    

“We feel like it’s a little more fair to everyone,” Powell said. “It doesn’t mean everyone has to get their application on day one.”

The waiting list will hold up to 4,000 applicants in an order determined by the lottery. An applicant not picked to be on the waitlist will have to wait until Chandler accepts applications again. 

Preferences will be given to households with disabled or elderly residents. An applicant with a preference will receive a voucher before applicants without one.  

The city will begin accepting applications again for a two-week period starting Jan. 27 – the first time Chandler’s opened up the voucher system since 2016. 

When the city opened up its waitlist four years ago, residents from all over the Valley flocked to Chandler and stood in long lines to fill out an application.

Powell said the city got at least 4,000 applications in 2016, and expects to receive just as many this year, if not more. 

“There is certainly a demand for housing,” she said.

In a recent community assessment done by the city, affordable housing was ranked as the most pressing need of Chandler residents. A city survey of 600 residents discovered about 29 percent of them were living on less than $25,000 a year. 

The number of Chandler residents living below the poverty line increased by 78 percent over the last 19 years. 

The federal government supplies Chandler with 486 housing vouchers for low-income residents to use to supplement a portion of their rent. Applicants living alone must earn less than $25,500 to be eligible for a voucher. 

Other Valley cities receive a significantly higher number of vouchers. Mesa’s public housing authority handles 1,523 vouchers, Glendale has 1,054, Tempe processes 1,052, and Scottsdale disperses 735 vouchers. 

Congress amended the Section 8 program in the 1970s to offer more freedom for low-income residents to decide where they want to live. Instead of the government building and maintaining public housing, the Section 8 program would shift poorer residents over to the private market, where they ideally have more options. 

But recent studies indicate most voucher recipients in Arizona were being segregated to the poorer regions of the Valley. 

More than 41 percent of Maricopa County’s vouchers are being used in 15 zip codes that have an average poverty of at least 28 percent, according to a 2017 analysis by the Arizona Republic.  

Because landlords are not required to accept a voucher, renters often have limited options on where they can use the subsidy and are relegated to cheaper parts of the Valley. 

Powell previously said her department’s has tried to find more landlords in Chandler willing to accept Section 8 vouchers.

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