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United Way of Lancaster County


County housing authority to open waiting list for rental vouchers next month

The entrance to the Lancaster County Housing & Redevelopment Authorities’ offices. (Photo: Kyle Gamble)

The Lancaster County Housing Authority announced Tuesday that it will open its waiting list for Housing Choice vouchers for several days next month — the first time it has done so 16 years.

Applications will be accepted for four days, the authority said, from 7:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 2, until 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5. Applications must be made through the authority’s online portal. No paper applications will be accepted.

To be eligible, households can earn no more than 50% of county median income, which is $47,750 for a family of four.

Applications can be completed using a computer, tablet or smart phone. Would-be applicants who don’t have their own devices, or who need assistance, can apply at one of Lancaster County’s public libraries or at the following nonprofits:

  • Bright Side Opportunities Center, 515 Hershey Ave., Lancaster
  • CrossNet Ministries, 127 W. Franklin St., New Holland
  • The Factory Ministries, 3293 Lincoln Highway East, Paradise
  • Good Samaritan Services, 616 N. Lime St., Lancaster
  • Tenfold, 308 E. King St., Lancaster

Once the application period closes and submissions are vetted, the authority will conduct a random lottery drawing within 10 days, selecting 500 applications to be added to the waiting list. Confirmation numbers for those that are selected will be posted on the authority’s website.

Submitting an application early will not increase the chance of being picked, the authority said: All valid completed applications received by the deadline will have an equal chance.

Housing Choice, also known as Section 8, is a federally funded program for low-income renters. It allows local authorities to issue vouchers to eligible households that they can use to secure leases from local private landlords. Tenants pay a reduced rent, with the subsidy provided through the voucher making up the difference.

Demand for vouchers has historically exceeded supply. In recent years, Lancaster County’s rental housing market has tightened appreciably, and the number of landlords who accept vouchers has shrunk.

The authority last opened the waiting list over the period July 9-20, 2007, according to newspaper records. That time around, no limit was set for the length of the waiting list, and it has taken until now to work through the volume of applications received, authority officials said.

The Lancaster City Housing Authority also operates a Housing Choice voucher program. It briefly opened its waiting list in August, receiving some 4,400 applications over a 31-hour period.