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Need housing? Rare opportunity for low-income vouchers opens up

Anyone in need of subsidized housing has a rare opportunity this month. For the first time in five years, the Seattle Housing Authority is opening its waitlist for low-income housing vouchers

This is a waitlist for Housing Choice Vouchers, sometimes called Section 8. The vouchers are federally funded and people can use the money to rent apartments on the private market. To qualify, you have to earn below a certain income threshold – for a family of four it’s $26,000.

The last time Seattle Housing Authority opened its waitlist was 2008. Executive director Andrew Lofton says now there’s pent-up demand.

"Because of the fact that the list hasn’t been opened for quite some time, we suspect there will be a surge of people early just to make sure that they do apply," Lofton said.

Lofton stresses that this is not a first-come, first-served process. People can apply anytime between now and February 22nd.

The agency will then use a lottery to select about 2000 of those applicants to put on the waitlist.

For an idea of how huge the demand will be this time, Lofton points to King County Housing Authority. When they opened their waitlist in 2011, they got 10 applicants for every one slot.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.