Both the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency and the Oklahoma City Housing Authority have stopped taking applications for the Housing Choice Voucher Program (aka Section 8). The Section 8 is a federal program that provides rental subsidies to homeless and low-income families. Approximately 10,250 Oklahoma families receive the service at present. But more than 20,000 people are on the waiting list. There is also a hold on the subsidized housing waiting list.
This comes at a time when the state is experiencing very hot weather and all the bugs and ticks are out. There is also the issue of trying to find clean drinking water which means walking around in the heat.
There are more and more people visiting homeless shelters in Oklahoma. But the shelters are only open until 4 pm, except for one in the city that is open overnight. Hundreds of people are currently spending the night there.
The economic recession has caused the number of Section 8 applications to increase. The demand for the vouchers started around 2007 but has increased recently due to the downturn in the economy. The waiting list has been closed only three times in the last 30 years. It is expected to be sometime before the application process will open again.
There are a couple of other avenues for accepting Section 8 applications, including the Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa and the Norman Housing Authority of Oklahoma. But it can take months or even years before the the applicant receives the subsidy. Failing these two avenues, the next fallback is to try to rely on other government or charity-based programs for temporary housing.
This is a very big concern that the Section 8 process is not able to provide the important safety net that it once did for the struggling families of Oklahoma. To rent a house in Oklahoma is about four times above what anyone on the poverty line can afford. When we start losing our back up support systems we know society is really heading in the wrong direction.