Huge Wait for Section 8

February 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Nearly a thousand Madera families are now anxiously awaiting government assistance. A huge crowd of families descended on the Madera Fair Grounds to apply for Section 8. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Madera Housing Authority: (559) 674-5695
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Cold and wet families bundled together. They waited overnight at the fair grounds just for the chance to walk in and apply for Section 8. Marcella Zuniga was the first in line out of a thousand families who applied on Thursday. Zuniga said, "Unfortunately, a lot of us are homeless and losing our homes, our jobs. This is all we have to look forward to."

Section 8 is for low income families. They are given a voucher which pays a portion to rent a house or apartment. Completing the application doesn't guarantee Section 8 assistance. Only 200 new families will be accommodated this year which means the majority of people who showed up here will have to wait a long time.

Maria Juaraz with Madera's Housing Authority said the recession is compounding the need for Section 8. Juarez said, "We're telling families 6 months to 2-3 years, depending on availability. Again, families who have vouches if they are holding on to them, the list goes slower."

Once families get approved, the renting market is ripe. Adam Goldfarb manages 30 apartment complexes. He said the apartment industry is experiencing an increase in vacancies which means they're offering more bargains. Goldfarb said, "We are incentivizing. Whether it is free rent or a concession off the monthly rent, if it's a TV? deals are out there."

But with so many families showing up in Madera waiting for government help is long and painful.

Janice Valle from Madera said, "Well, all you can do is just wait, wait for that phone call."

The Madera Housing Authority is still accepting applications until mid March. For more information, you can call their office, at 559-674-5695.

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