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Housing Vouchers Available

Tables set up to Federal Housing applicants in Dallas County
Tables set up to Federal Housing applicants in Dallas County

By Bill Zeeble, KERA News

Dallas, TX – It was a busy Thursday for Dallas County Housing officials. 5,000 low income residents took the rare, one-day-only opportunity to apply for Section-8 housing vouchers. KERA's Bill Zeeble reports the last time residents could apply was 5 years ago.

3,000 people showed up before doors even opened at 8 in the Jesse Owens sports complex in southern Dallas. They hoped for one of the vouchers available through the county's Department of Health and Human Services. The agency's one of several government entities in north Texas with a share of vouchers. Crystal Wade, single mother of 3, arrived 10:30 and easily walked in, filled out an application, and was finished in 15 minutes.

Wade: I've been at the shelter for 2 weeks. Before then I was staying somewhere, I lost my job, just got a divorce so it's been kind of hard.

Wade knows her voucher won't be available for at least 2 years, but she's ready to wait, because she says it means a better foundation for her young family seeking a fresh start.

Zachary Thompson says he's not surprised by the demand. Thompson runs Dallas County's Health and Human Services Department. He says HHS handles about 3,800 vouchers in all. Some applicants get them as others relinquish theirs because they no longer need them. Thompson says in this bad economy, he's never seen a greater need.

Thompson: Five years ago when we did this, we were looking at about 3000, I knew we were going to double that based on the economy and we'll definitely exceed that number. The reality is the need is there.

Thompson wants more vouchers. But he says that would take Congress authorizing more housing dollars from a budget that may have nothing more to give.

Email Bill Zeeble