LAS VEGAS -- The situation is desperate for thousands of people in southern Nevada who cannot find any place to live that they can afford. For two years, no one has been able to apply for low income housing in southern Nevada. It's been even longer for people in other states.
An eight year absence caused chaos in Georgia as thousands lined up just to get applications for Section 8 housing. In Las Vegas, 4,000 people are on the waiting list. Those who qualify are able to rent any house in the county at a reduced price, providing the owner of the property is participating in the program.
There are so many applications submitted to Section 8, it could take up to three years for the program to accept any applications again.
Charlotte Wlsey has been living on Section 8 housing for 18 years. "I'm thankful for it because if I didn't have it, I'd probably be living up at Shade Tree," she said.
However, Wlsey's friends aren't so lucky. She's at the housing authority to find them homes. "I have friends on Section 8. They have been on the waiting list for two to three years," she said.
According to Deloris Sawyer with Southern Nevada's Regional Housing authority, there are so many applications submitted for Section 8 housing they had to stop taking them only days after open enrollment.
"Our wait list has been closed since June of 2008," she said. "We accepted 3,000 applications at that time within a period of five days."
Not to mention a thousand more applications from Clark County and the City of Las Vegas. Four thousand applications from people waiting months, even years, to rent a home.
"I don't understand why, because there are too many vacant apartments," said Wlsey.
Sawyer says it's not an issue of available apartments or homes, but rather funding. They just don't have enough money to pay Section 8 property owners the rent for affordable housing.
"I'm responsible for writing grants for an agency. So I'm always seeking additional funds to get some vouchers and more affordable housing programs here," said Sawyer.
Wlsey friends have been couch surfing, waiting for the call that the house they want is available. But with a three to four year waiting list, it's anybody's guess when that will happen.
The housing authority takes those applications over the phone rather than in person, and because of it, they are able to prevent any crowd problems like they did in Atlanta Wednesday.