60K expected applicants for 2K spots: Wait list for Section 8 housing opens

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Minnesota's largest administrator of Section 8 housing vouchers opened its waiting list for the first time in eight years.

The Metropolitan Council's Housing and Redevelopment Authority (Metro HRA) – which helps pay for about 6,500 households in roughly 100 communities in Anoka, Carver and most of suburban Hennepin and Ramsey counties – began accepting applications for its waiting list Tuesday morning.

Terri Smith of the Metro HRA expects 60,000 people to apply for the waiting list, but only 2,000 applicants will be selected. Smith told MPR News they're hoping to serve all families within two to three years of getting on the waiting list.

The deadline to apply for the waiting list is noon Friday. Applicants who meet the income guidelines will be randomly selected for the waiting list.

In 2007, the last time the waiting list was open, Metro HRA received 9,000 applications, according to a news release.

Lack of affordable housing and limited scale of housing assistance programs play a major role in homelessness around the country, the National Coalition for the Homeless noted in 2009, and the supply of housing subsidies rarely comes close to meeting the supply – only about one-third of low-income households receive a housing subsidy.

Section 8 housing is a federal government-funded program that helps low-income households pay rent on private, market-rate rental units, according to HousingLink. Those who participate pay about 30 percent of their income as rent, and the rest is subsidized through the voucher program.

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