More than 1,200 Quad-Citians on waiting lists for housing help


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Originally Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2012, 5:10 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 17, 2012, 12:07 am
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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

It can take up to eight years for a family to secure low-income housing in the Quad-Cities, where more than 1,200 applicants are on waiting lists.

In Moline, families can wait as long as five years for Section 8 housing, a federal program that provides rental assistance for low-income families. In Davenport, applicants for Section 8 housing can face an eight-year wait.

Bettendorf's waiting list of around 100 for Section 8 housing has been closed for two years, while the Rock Island Housing Authority has 689 applicants on its waiting list.

In Moline, there are 428 applicants on the waiting list for public or Section 8 housing, including young families, seniors and the disabled, Moline Housing Authority Director John Afoun said.

"It's not something we talk about a lot in the Quad-Cities, but a lot of these people are homeless; they are sleeping in their cars, on friends' couches or in substandard housing," Mr. Afoun said.

New housing for people living in poverty needs to be developed to begin solving the problem, he said.

The Rock Island Housing Authority houses nearly 2,000 people and has 487 public housing units, with a waiting list of 457, spokeswoman Gail Brooks said.

The authority also has 235 Section 8 vouchers, and 232 people on a waiting list to get them. Housing authorities are awarded a fixed number of Section 8 vouchers, which are distributed among applicants.

Rock Island Ald. Terry Brooks, a member of the Rock Island Housing Authority board, said some pressure could be taken off the system if a proposal to develop new public housing at the former Valley Homes site got off the ground.

The 53-unit Valley Homes development was demolished in 2005 and plans to develop new public housing at the site met with resistance from neighbors, and faced funding challenges that have not been overcome.

"The housing authority can only deal with what they have to work with," Ald. Brooks said. "The need is huge and we just have to constantly work to try and find housing for people."

In Davenport, officials get calls daily from people seeking help for public and Section 8 housing, said Destiny Gerhardt, the city's financial compliance coordinator for assisted housing.

She couldn't say how many applicants are on the waiting list but said an applicant who applied for housing in 2004 only secured housing this week.

Angie Rangel, Section 8 coordinator for the city of Bettendorf, said federal funding for Section 8 vouchers rather than the supply of housing is responsible for the city closing down its waiting list. Bettendorf has no public housing.

Section 8 vouchers are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and provide rental assistance by contracting with private landlords and subsidizing a portion of the rent, usually to low-income families.

In public housing, low-income tenants rent units owned by the housing authorities.




















 



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