Too many people; too few apartments

In these difficult economic times, the hottest ticket in town may well be the Section 8 voucher. It’s a federal program which provides housing assistance to low-income renters and homeowners in the form of rental subsidies.

And it’s almost impossible to get in the metro area. In fact, it can take 10-12 years, according to one report.

According to the Web site, it’s difficult even getting on a waiting list.

That will change — but only for a little while — in Minneapolis and Bloomington. Bloomington is accepting applications to get on the waiting list by phone only from 8:30 a.m. – 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday, June 24 and Wednesday, June 25, 2008.

Minneapolis is opening the waiting list starting at midnight on Thursday to late on Friday. (Find the Web site here) Paper applications are being taken at some of the branches of the Minneapolis Public Library.

For other regions of the metro, the situation remains bleak. Columbia Heights, Carver County, Dakota County, South St. Paul, Plymouth, Richfield, St. Louis Park, St. Paul, Scott County and Washington County all have closed the Section 8 waiting lists.

Expect plenty of demand. When Plymouth opened its waiting list in February, more than 3,700 people showed up to try to get 300 spots on the list. When St. Paul opened its list last year for the first time in five years, 11,000 people tried for a voucher.

Even if a low-income person should “win” a spot on the waiting list and, eventually, a voucher, the task of finding an apartment is daunting. According to the October 2007 study of Section 8 in the metro by HOME Line, a tenant advocacy group, wait time can range from one to seven years, and the unwillingness of landlords to rent to Section 8 tenants is growing.

  • Momkat

    Funding for Section 8 housing, according to a friend who works in that business, has been cut for at least the last 7 years.

    My 92 year old mother is so fortunate to be living in a small southern MN town in a Section 8-subsidized apartment and getting by comfortably on her three-digit social security check plus her meager savings. There is rarely a waiting list for that 8-plex and she gets to stay in the community where her friends and family are. So if you don’t mind living in a town of 200….

  • c

    I HAVE to laugh at this as back in 2000 there was a big push for something like 20,000 affordable units in 2000. Whatever happened to that?

  • c


    here’s a dumb question. with all of the vacant homes, can’t some of these banks that own them GIVE them to section 8?

  • c

    I should probably back up that question with this statement that i find it ironic that so many are homeless while we have MANY empty houses. What is wrong with us?

  • bsimon

    ” i find it ironic that so many are homeless while we have MANY empty houses. What is wrong with us?”

    The market may be approaching the point where it is viable to get back in as a landlord of low income properties. This kind of person is usually referred to as a slumlord.

    There are some multi unit low-income buildings near me that seem like prime candidates to be picked up by a nonprofit – but I don’t know if any non profits exist that have the budget to get into real estate.

  • Nancy

    I thought a slumlord was a landlord that did minimal maintenance, not necessarily related to the income of the property.

    Tonight in Saint Louis Park City Hall, a group of apartment residents were meeting to discuss their landlord’s apparent decision to get out of Section 8 business and begin charging market rates.

    If they can’t afford the rate, they’ll have to find other places to live.

  • Bob Collins

    With the foreclosures on homes being so high, THOSE people are going into rental housing, driving the vacancy rate down and the rents up. That’s one reason why property owners are getting out of Section 8. I also believe the rent limit that HUD set went DOWN, while the actual rents are going up.

  • Mary L.

    I was in a position to help someone try to get online today to apply for Section 8. The website was so overwhelmed it was impossible to even register. It’s crazy that this is the preferred method of application as it completely overlooks the fact that many don’t have internet access at their fingertips.

  • c

    at Bob Collins:

    So what it all boils down to is greed. Landlords wanting a bigger piece of pie because they are not getting a good sized wedge from the City?

    I think what needs to change is peoples way of thinking about more pie.

  • mary

    Is it okay to post something about a slumlord so no one else rents the property?

    there is on in chaska mn.