ADAMS -- The Housing Authority opened its Section 8 waiting list last week for the first time since 2010, resulting in 52 new applications.
The authority received the applications Friday, June 22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at its offices on Columbia Street. Executive Director Richard Hamblin said the near-exhaustion of the prior list prompted the refresh, and he hopes between five and seven new vouchers can be distributed to individuals and families from the new group.
"We thought it was a success on Friday and I believe the first group of people are going to be very happy to be served," Hamblin said.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) manages Section 8 programs, and Adams employs the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Under the program, parties with a voucher find housing and pay roughly 30 percent of their adjusted income per month in rent. The town is allotted 95 vouchers, 79 of which are currently in use.
"The vagary of the program is, about four or five years ago, HUD put what's called a ‘hard cap' on the available funds per voucher," Hamblin said. "What happens is over time, our cost per voucher goes up, and the net result is there's been some attrition because we don't have the funds to cover the full 95."
According to Hamblin, the authority has historically had more than enough funds to cover the cost of its 95 vouchers, but has struggled since the institution of HUD's hard
Despite Hamblin's expectation, given the rise in Section 8 applicants in the area and elsewhere, Friday's turnout was "about the same" as in 2010.
Patti Volpi, of the authority, said the vouchers will be distributed by lottery, with priority given to families and disabled individuals. She said "[people] had been calling constantly to see when we were opening [the list]."
"Most of them are local," Volpi said. "Everyone that's going to receive a voucher will know within two weeks, and then they have 120 days to find a place to live. Right now, about seven vouchers are available, and there's potential for more to be issued."
Hamblin expressed a similar goal.
"We'd like to get the number up to the 84 to 87 range, where we think it's sustainable," he said. "The toughest part of the program is there are a number of families who are eligible, but the funding is not available."
According to Hamblin, the Authority has future designs of assisting in a town project-based Section 8 rental assistance program at Greylock Apartments, an urban renewal project on Myrtle Street behind the Big Y.
The goal of the project would be to prevent rent costs from going up there after the building's federally subsidized mortgage expires, due to happen this year.
Hamblin said the Authority will make an announcement on the matter in early July, and if the findings are especially positive, additional applicants from the waiting list could be served.
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