A Chicago alderwoman shared that she had received the opportunity to apply for a public housing voucher – 29 years after joining the waiting list:
Jeanette Taylor applied for an affordable housing voucher in Chicago in 1993, nearly three decades ago. But on Tuesday Taylor revealed that she received a letter dated May 20 informing her that she was on the top of the waiting list and could begin the “application for eligibility” process…
However, demand for the vouchers typically far exceeds their supply: about a quarter of the low-income tenants who need federal rental assistance actually receive it, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank. Waiting lists, which sometimes stop accepting new applicants for several years at a time, are typical. Landlords don’t always want to work with Section 8 renters, either.
“Everyone is shocked but this is pretty standard,” Courtney Welch, a council member in Emeryville, California, said in a post responding to Taylor’s thread on Twitter. “Twenty-nine years is exceptionally long, but I know two people personally that were on the section 8 wait list for over a decade. One got it after 11 years, the other after 13. They both signed up at age 18.”…
In 2020, though, the suburban Housing Authority of Cook County reopened its Housing Choice Voucher waiting list for the first time since 2001, with at least 10,000 people applying right away, according to the Chicago Tribune. In March, the nearby Oak Park Housing Authority also reopened its waiting list to applications for the first time since 2004.
Lengthy bureaucratic lines for public housing and housing vouchers may be normal but my sense from Chicago’s track record is that residents of the city wait longer than most.
In a related question, can a city or government really claim to offer something when the waiting list spans decades?
Finally, Americans have consistently showed that they do not particularly like the idea of public housing. Instead, more resources and effort go toward encouraging mortgages and homeownership. This could be one consistent way to signal this displeasure: do not provide enough funding and vouchers to meet the need present in many places.