County's subsidized housing list closed

As of June 1 folks looking to the federal Section 8 subsidized housing program for assistance will have to look somewhere else for a place to live.

The Housing Authority of Island County is closing its waiting list for the program until demand lessens.

There are approximately 300 families in Island County currently being served by the program that offers vouchers to help pay rent, while nearly 600 other families are waiting for assistance.

“Without any new funding, it looks like it will be a long time before we reach anybody on our waiting list,” said Steve Gulliford, executive director for the Housing Authority of Island County.

He added that 27 families went off the program in the last 12 months.

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program provides assistance for low-income families. Households on the program pay one-third of their income for rent and utilities while the voucher program picks up the rest of the tab.

Gulliford said anybody can apply for the program as long as they meet the income requirements. Elderly and disabled people also use the program.

The Housing Authority receives $1.8 million to fund the program in Island County.

Other Section 8 programs in the area also have stopped accepting new applicants. “Most housing authorities in the Puget Sound area are in the same position,” Gulliford said.

The Island County Housing Authority started administering the program approximately 15 years ago when it served around 50 families.

The waiting list was closed once before in the late 1990s but re-opened again in 2000 when the current waiting list started forming.

Guilliford attributed the lengthy waiting list to the lagging economy and the tight job market in the region.

Even though the Housing Authority isn’t accepting any more applications for subsidized housing, Guilliford is recommending that folks try and secure housing in one of the various low-income apartment complexes in the area.

But he said that it could also be difficult because each apartment complex may have a waiting list, too.

In addition to closing its waiting list for the voucher program, the Housing Authority of Island County is also cutting its operating hours by 30 minutes a day due to a cut in administration funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development., Gulliford said.

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