Millions of Families Are Unable to
Get on Waiting Lists

Waiting Lists Grossly Underestimate Need for Housing AssistanceThe Public & Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) released a report – Housing Agency Waiting Lists and the Demand for Housing Assistance – which assesses the extent that the need for affordable housing outpaces the supply.

According to the report, in 2012:

  • 3.6 million families received assistance through the public housing and the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) programs and
  • Over 4 million families were on the wait list for these programs.

Many housing agencies have insufficient resources to meet the demand and close their waiting lists as a result. This leads to very conservative counts of the numbers of families waiting for housing assistance.

PAHRC estimates that that if these waiting lists were not closed, results would show:

  • 9.5 million families waiting for HCVs and
  • 2.76 million families waiting for public housing units.

The Huffington Post reports,

“Once a family makes it onto a list, there’s no guarantee that they’ll get assistance anytime soon. Waiting list size and turnover vary, but in some places, applicants who make it on the list end up stuck for years.”

The overwhelming demand for affordable housing has put a tremendous strain on the resources available to public housing programs and on the families waiting for affordable housing. Consequently, there are millions of families who do not have access to an affordable home.

These families are at risk of falling deeper into poverty or even becoming homeless. The report has public policy implications.

“There’s a lot more people waiting than we previously thought. … It’s pretty astounding to me,” she said. “This is a great way to demonstrate that we need more resources for housing across the nation.”

Says lead PARC researcher Keely Stater.

The Huffington Post reports that

“In 2013, The New York Times talked to Maria Almonte, one of over 200,000 people on the New York City Housing Authority’s waiting list for public housing. She applied in 2009.

‘Every time I call, they don’t say anything,’ Almonte told the paper. ‘They say, ‘You’re on the waiting list, you’re on the waiting list.’ Sometimes I feel such anxiety because of the uncertainty.’”

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