PORTLAND, Ore. – People who are on the waitlist for Section 8 vouchers in Multnomah County will have to wait until at least next year to receive their voucher.
Home Forward – Multnomah County’s housing authority – announced Monday it will not distribute any new vouchers in 2017 due to federal funding cuts.
The Portland Mercury reported the likelihood of the year-long furlough in March, but Home Forward said an act of Congress could help mitigate the funding problem.
Now, the year-long pause is set in stone.
“Home Forward will not be pulling names from our Housing Choice Voucher wait list in 2017. We think it is the only fiscally responsible decision we can make in this housing and funding climate, and we do so with great regret for the families left waiting,” said Michael Buonocore, Executive Director of Home Forward.
Portland’s increasingly expensive rental market and low vacancy rates also contributed to Home Forward’s decision, Buonocore said.
Multnomah County currently has 9,109 Section 8 vouchers that it gives to low-income residents. Some are reserved for specific populations, such as veterans and families. The vouchers are paid for primarily through federal funds and allow low-income residents to rent market-priced homes, with the voucher making up the difference between what they can afford to pay and what the housing costs.
Even with vouchers, it’s difficult for people to find housing that fits within the maximum rent price limits. A quarter of people who receive vouchers have to give them back because they couldn’t find a home to rent. The limits went up last year but they are still below market rate.
Home Forward opened its waitlist for the first time in four years last September. Three-thousand people out of 16,000 applicants made the wait list through the lottery application. At the time, Home Forward said it would take two to three years for those 3,000 people to get a voucher.
Now, that process will take even longer.