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Phoenix reopens rental assistance program after 11 years

Thousands of Phoenix residents looking for some help paying rent applied for a voucher program earlier this month.

The Section 8 voucher program, which last took applicants in 2005, allows residents who qualify to apply online for rental assistance. The Section 8 program allows those selected to rent anywhere in the city of Phoenix.

“If the landlord will accept the voucher, they can live at that place and the city will pick up the rent that’s in excess of 30 percent of their income,” said city of Phoenix housing director Cindy Stotler.

In order to qualify for the voucher, a single person can make no more than $22,050 a year. For a family of eight, they can make no more than $41,550 a year. Around 27,000 applied for the voucher during a nearly two-week period earlier this month. Only 10,000 will be selected via a lottery process. From there, those 10,000 will be put on a voucher wait list.

“We will be starting to call the vouchers in this year and we anticipate three to five years to work our way through all 10,000,” Stotler said.

The other 17,000 will have to wait and apply again when the program reopens.

Some organizations had filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about certain issues related to the program. Stotler said one of the issues included translating information documents to languages other than English and Spanish. Phoenix housing responded by translating documents into Chinese, Vietnamese and Arabic and posting them online.

“Whatever we could do to do better outreach and to get to the people that really need vouchers, we were going to do,” Stotler said.

She said the groups and the city of Phoenix did come to an understanding regarding the issues filed in the complaint. Stotler said the city also has a Phoenix housing Spanish-language website in the works, which she hopes will be completed within the next six months.

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