City reopens waiting list for housing assistance
Jimmy Daniell Isaac
Feb. 8, 2018 at 12:04 a.m.
The city of Longview's waiting list for housing vouchers will reopen next month for the first time in more than three years.
Housing Manager Cheteva Marshall said opening the list will allow it to be built back up. At one time, there were about 800 names on the list, and that number has shrunk to 133.
On average, Longview Housing Authority loses six to seven families a month to attrition, Marshall said. Ideally, housing staff pulls enough names from the wait list to replace those families each month as long as funding is available.
Often, families are discouraged from applying to be placed on Longview's list because of the potential wait time, she said. The list has been closed since fall 2014.
"However, the only way to guarantee that you never receive assistance is to not apply when the list is open," she said.
The wait list will open March 1 and close March 31. Applications will be accepted only online at www.waitlistcheck.com/TX666.
For families without internet service, a computer lab will be available 9 a.m. until noon March 8 and 9 at Broughton Recreation Center, 801 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
"We will also be reaching out to service agencies and shelters to schedule times for a member of the housing team to visit their facility and help their participants submit applications for the list," she said.
Meanwhile, Marshall said her staff is keeping its eyes on rumors of Trump administration proposals for federal housing, such as minimum work requirements for some recipients and higher rents.
"We haven't noticed any direct impacts" under the Trump administration, Marshall said. "However, we are following the recent talks of rent reform that includes potential work requirements."
When asked whether work requirements might deter people from seeking housing help, Marshall answered, "Absolutely not."
She said that if funding levels aren't reduced, it will "certainly allow public housing agencies to help more families."
According to reports, almost 48 percent of renters in Longview are overburdened — meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their gross income on housing.
The median annual household income in Longview is $44,544, and the median rent is about $780, according to online data from the 2010 Census and 2015 survey estimates.
"In Longview, a household making less than $2,607 a month would be considered overburdened when renting an apartment at or above the median rent," Marshall said.
"That being said," she continued, "increasing rent burdens on some of the country's most vulnerable families would certainly require a true investment in work programs that offer viable resources and stability to help ensure their success."