Portland's rental assistance program open to new applicants through July 31

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PORTLAND — After being closed for three years, the Portland Housing Authority has opened its Section 8 housing voucher program to new applicants.

Deputy Director Mark Adelson said the opening of the waiting comes at a time when more families are looking for help because they have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced.

“The timing is fortunate,” Adelson said. “We are certainly seeing a big increase in demand for Section 8 vouchers, because of the economy. We know the need is large.”

Adelson said there are about 200 people still awaiting housing assistance through the program. He said the waiting list can grow to more than 1,000 people.

While opening the program will put more people in the pipeline to receive assistance, there is no guarantee that assistance will come anytime soon.

“Our waiting list won’t provide anyone with any immediate assistance,” Director of Housing Services Janice Bosse said. “But it gets people on the list for issuance we do every month.”

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is a federally funded rental assistance program designed to provide affordable housing opportunities to low-income households, or those earning half of the median income for Greater Portland.

Bosse said a single person making less than $25,000 a year or a family of four making less than $36,000 a year may qualify for vouchers. 

People who receive vouchers must contribute 30 percent of their income towards their housing. The housing authority will make up the balance. 

Bosse said the housing authority currently provides $14 million a year in vouchers to 1,750 households, she said.

“There are rent limits,” Adelson said. “We won’t go above a certain amount.” 

People who need to be added to the waiting list can stop by the Portland Housing Authority office, 14 Baxter Boulevard. Interested people will be asked to fill out a postcard and return it to the housing authority. All post cards must be postmarked by July 31.

Full applications will be mailed in early August and must be returned by Aug. 31.

People unable to pick up a postcard in person can have one mailed to their home by calling 773-4753.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net

This story has been updated to include the correct phone number for the Portland Housing Authority.