MESA, Ariz. — For the first time in five and a half years, people struggling to pay their rent in Mesa can apply for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher waitlist.
As of Thursday morning, the City of Mesa already had 11,000 applications filled out, surpassing the 10,000 that was originally anticipated by city staff.
In the corner of the city’s building at 200 North Center, Ryan Weber types away at a kiosk hosting the voucher waitlist application.
“I’m on a tight budget,” Weber said. “So it’s hard to get an apartment that I can afford.”
Weber is one of the dozens who came through the lobby Thursday submitting their applications.
“I’ve been kind of homeless before, and I’ve been couch hopping, so I kind of need somewhere that’s like more stable,” Weber said.
With rent climbing in Arizona, and across the country, many of the applicants are facing the same struggle.
“We know the market rents are so high and that people are underemployed to be able to afford those rents, that we're not surprised there's a lot of need out across the country, and especially here in Mesa,” Mary Brandon, Mesa’s community services deputy director, said.
300 people applying an hour
When the application first opened back up Wednesday morning, the city had 3,000 applications filed in the first 36 minutes.
Over the course of the first day, 8,200 people applied to the voucher waitlist.
But by Thursday morning, 11,000 people had applied, with 300 more applications coming in each hour.
“We have a really tough job, because we want to help everyone,” Brandon said.
Brandon said the Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are for those whose income is below half of the median income.
For a family of four right now, the income eligibility is about $44,000.
4,000 applicants selected by lottery
But the reality is that only 4,000 of those who apply will make the waitlist, that’s expected to be about three years long.
Those applicants will be chosen by lottery. Once selected, they’ll be waiting for 15 to 20 vouchers to open up each month over the next three years.
“We pay a portion of their rent, and they pay typically 30 to 40% of their annual adjusted income,” Brandon said.
Brandon is now anticipating 15,000 people to apply, meaning about one in four applicants will be selected to make the waitlist.
Weber is hoping he’s one of them.
“Hopefully, I can get my own place -- something I can actually call home,” Weber said.
Applications open through August 30
Applications for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher waitlist are open through Aug. 30 at 5 p.m.
You can apply online here.
The City of Mesa is making accommodations for paper applications, braille or large print applications and translation services. Information about those services can be found here or by calling the Mesa Housing Authority at (480) 644-3536.
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