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Agency will not accept any more low-income housing vouchers

Posted: May 16, 2011 - 8:52pm

ANCHORAGE — A state agency won’t be accepting any more low-income housing vouchers because the list has thousands of names on it and officials don’t want to give people false hope.

The list has reached 4,587 families, according to the Anchorage Daily News. That means it would take more than three years for an applicant to get to the top of the list.

The vouchers are for low-income residents and cap the amount of rent they must pay at 30 percent of their income. Federal funds administered by AHFC are used to pay landlords the balance.

“The demand for assisted housing has simply outgrown the supply,” said Jim Gurke, public housing director for Alaska Housing Finance Corp.

Some families are in shelters, some living with other families, and some are in situations where they have to pay a big share of their income for rent. Those in more dire straits, such as victims of domestic violence, the homeless, or those who spend more than half their income on rent, often move up the list faster.

“With the current number of applicants, it is no longer possible to estimate when voucher assistance might be available.”

AHFC is closing the Anchorage voucher waiting list as of June 1.

Darrel Hess, homeless coordinator for the city, said AHFC’s decision shows there’s just not an adequate supply of affordable housing in Anchorage.

AHFC estimates those who get vouchers keep them for an average of 81/2 years.

Meanwhile, rents have risen so that it costs more to fund each voucher. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Anchorage during the first quarter of 2010 was $1,127, including utilities, says a state Department of Labor report out this month.

Trevor Storrs, co-chairman of the Anchorage Coalition on Homelessness, said the problem needs to be taken to the federal level. However, Gurke doesn’t see the voucher situation improving given that many members of Congress are trying to cut spending.

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