For just five days in September, the Columbia Housing Authority will accept applications for a popular housing program.
The Section 8 “choice” program will allow 2,000 low-income families and individuals to rent homes available in Columbia and Richland County through the private market. The Columbia Housing Authority will pay a portion of their monthly rent, using federal funds.
The registration period is 9 a.m. Sept. 15 to 5 p.m. Sept. 19. People can only sign up online. The web address is chasc.org but it will not be active until the registration period opens, according to the housing authority.
“If someone needs housing assistance, this is the best program because it allows them to stay in an area where their children go to school, where their day care is, where their job is,” said Nancy Stoudenmire, the housing authority’s director of planning. “It’s the best program; it’s the one we get the most requests for; we probably get 50 requests a day.”
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The agency will use a lottery for the first time to select participants at random. That way, everyone gets an equal chance to participate, the agency said in an information packet.
Stoudenmire said it’s been more than six years since people in Richland County were allowed to sign up for Section 8 housing.
The Columbia Housing Authority has vouchers for 3,100 homes in its $19.6 million “choice” program. Ten to 15 participants leave the program each month, making way for new tenants, she said.
It could take three to four years to serve all 2,000 people selected through the lottery.
She stressed the program does not involve public housing, but homes and apartments available in the private sector. People who live in public housing are eligible to apply, however.
Information that must be provided to register are name, address, birthdate, social security number and telephone number. It should take less than five minutes to sign up.
Each household is allowed just one application.
Those selected through the lottery will be notified by mail by Oct. 31. There’s no telling when the next lottery will be held, the agency said.