Housing choice vouchers available today | SierraSun.com

Housing choice vouchers available today

Emma Garrard/ Sierra SunChristina Papio pours a cup of coffee in her apartment in Truckee Monday morning. Papio is legally blind and receives disability. Section 8 housing, a HUD program, subsidizes her rent so she can live in Truckee.

Christina Papio lives on $921 a month, but her Truckee apartment is clean, spacious and decorated.

Papio, 63, is legally blind and receives disability insurance, but in this economy, it’s not enough to cover even the basics. To make life work, Papio sought assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 8 program, which provides rental assistance through local housing authorities.

Now, Papio is able to pay just $270 a month for her 650-square-foot Truckee Pines apartment.

“This has helped me out tremendously. You could actually say that this saved my life,” Papio said. “[Section 8] gave me an opportunity to be independent even though I have a handicap.”

The Nevada County Housing Authority will open an application period for the waiting list of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program today in Truckee. It’s the first time in nearly 5 years that the list has opened.

“The last time we opened up the list was in 2002, and we had between 500 and 600 people apply,” said Alison Lehman, Director of the Nevada County Department of Social Services. “It took five years to exhaust that list, but we are down to less than 20 people, so that is why we are opening up the list again.”

Lehman said she anticipates as many as 700 people may apply this time around.

Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local housing agencies, long waiting periods are common, according to Lehman.

“I waited 10 years on the waiting list in southern California,” Papio said. “But it was absolutely worth the wait. I would wait 20 years if I had to.”

Housing choice vouchers allow very low-income families to choose and lease or purchase safe, decent and affordable privately-owned rental housing. And since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.

Papio pays just 30 percent of her rental cost, the remainder is paid for by Section 8 and is sent directly to the property manager or owner.

“I didn’t have any glitches,” Papio said. “I just filled out my paperwork and was very honest. Be honest; put everything in the paperwork and it will go a lot faster. And be patient. Patience is the whole thing.”

Information about Placer County’s Section 8 program was not available at the time of the Sierra Sun’s deadline.

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