In 4 hours, more than 11,000 people signed up for Section 8 vouchers in Norfolk

Virginia News

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The demand for rental assistance in Norfolk far exceeds the funds available, housing officials say.

On Oct. 30, the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority opened up its wait-list for its Housing Choice Voucher Program.

It was open for just four hours.

Housing Choice Vouchers allow a renter to pay only 30 percent of their income at a property that accepts the voucher. Taxpayers pay the difference.

“We had 11,279 applications submitted,” said John Kownack, NRHA’s executive director. “[That’s] typical of what we have seen each time we open the waiting list.”

The demand is so high, Kownack said the wait list has only opened up three times in the last 10 years.

And while the number of landlords who accept Section 8 vouchers is less than the demand — Kownack says that isn’t the main problem.

“We have probably 18,000 to 19,000 households in the City of Norfolk that would qualify for rental assistance. We only get enough money from [United States Department of Housing and Urban Development] to serve about … 3,000. So if we had more rental assistance, we would provide that and there would be less people on the waiting list,” Kownack said.

Since 2010, NRHA has pushed to add at least 3,600 quality affordable housing units that accept vouchers to the city’s inventory. So far, Kownack said 1,600 has come on board. St. Paul’s Apartments and The Retreat are some examples of new complexes.

“A lot of families are looking for a variety of apartments and single-family homes. There is not a lot of supply of single family homes that accept vouchers,” Kownack said. “It’s a numbers thing.”

Kownack says since 20 10, NRHA has been looking for more developers to create affordable housing ahead of its big project. Low income housing tax credits are being used to entice developers to build more low income units.

So far they’ve reached half of their goal, and hope to have more announcements soon.

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