The King County Housing Authority (KCHA) will open its waitlist for housing vouchers for two weeks in February, allowing people a shot at subsidized housing in the unincorporated parts of the county and 37 cities in the county.
Housing Choice Vouchers, also called Section 8 vouchers, are prized because they are a guarantee that the government will cover a large portion of a household’s rent in private market housing.
As a Move to Work housing authority, which is a Housing and Urban Development program, KCHA allows more flexibility with the vouchers than many other housing authorities, increasing payment standards depending on the average rents in a ZIP code. After the first year, the household can try to use their voucher in other jurisdictions.
There are a limited number of vouchers to go around, and people at the top of the waitlist can receive one as soon as another household gives up theirs, perhaps because their income increased, making them ineligible.
Information in the waitlist becomes stale over time — people leave the area, no longer qualify for a voucher or change their contact information and cannot be reached when their names come up. KCHA then will reopen the waitlist to new applicants.
The last time that happened was spring of 2017, when more than 20,000 people applied for 3,500 spots on the waitlist.
This time will be even more competitive, said Rhonda Rosenberg, spokesperson for KCHA. The housing authority is offering 2,500 spots on the waitlist. If previous numbers of applicants hold, that’s roughly a 1-in-10 chance of snagging a spot.
Getting on the list does not mean getting a voucher. If a person’s name comes up, they then have to provide other documentation proving that they are eligible for the federal government program.
The application period runs from 7 a.m. Feb. 12 to 4 p.m. Feb. 25. All applications must be filled out online via the housing authority’s website. The application itself is available only in English, though the agency has “Frequently Asked Questions” documents in 12 languages.
Applicants should apply only at kcha.org/lottery, Rosenberg said. In previous years, scam websites have popped up and charged people for applications. No outside agency can guarantee a spot on the waiting list.
KCHA is working with its partners to ensure that people without a computer or internet-capable mobile device have access to computers to fill out the application.
Everyone who applies during the two-week period has an equal shot of getting on the list. After the application period closes, names will be chosen at random.
Update: This story incorrectly stated where a King County Housing Authority Voucher was valid. It is valid for the unincorporated parts of King County and 37 cities. The newspaper apologizes for the error.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC.
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