Some 500 people crammed the housing authority’s offices within hours of the start of a lottery—not for Powerball, but for precious rent subsidies.
The sign-up for the lottery began Monday morning at the housing authority’s 360 Orange St. headquarters. The authority’s Evelise Ribeiro said she expects 4,000 potential tenants to fill out forms to participate in the lottery by the end of the week. The “drawing” for the lucky 900 winners takes place in January or February.
The lottery prize: being placed on a waiting list for federal “Section 8” subsidies for two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments.
The authority sent out a notice to prospective applicants that it was holding the lottery, the first time the waiting lists have opened up since February.
That brought applicants from across New Haven and as far as Norwalk and New York, all with tales of hard times in the recession.
Jasmine Black (pictured) is hoping to land a two-bedroom apartment for her and her 2-year-old son. They’re currently squooshed into a rented room on Dickerman Street, she said. Black said she has been looking for work since she got laid off last year as a packer and shipper at the Milford Schick razor plant.
“I can’t afford rent by myself,” she said. “There’s no jobs.”
Kim Jones (pictured at the top of the story) said she’s having trouble affording the $500 a month for her two-bedroom apartment where she lives with her son in the Quinnipiac Terrace complex in Fair Haven. She, too, hasn’t been able to find work since she got laid off as a housekeeper at a Montowese rehabilitation center, she said.
“People are in crisis,” said another applicant, from Carmel Street, who lost her job at a convalescent home. “Times are hard right now.”
Annette Rose traveled from Norwalk when she learned of the lottery. She’s been doubling up with a friend since losing her job in 2010. Her unemployment benefits end next month.
Housing authority Deputy Director Jimmy Miller (pictured) said the turnout would actually have been larger if it had been a normal lottery. This one is restricted to people making between 30 and 60 percent of the median area income ($20,100 to $40,2000 for a two-member household; $33,150 to $66,300 for an eight-member household). And it is limited to just mixed-income developments, including two soon-to-open complexes in West Rock, Wilmot Run and the first phase of the replacement of the old Brookside projects.
The authority also held a lottery for one-bedroom apartments for veterans and the disabled. Gary Cole (pictured) applied for one of those. He left Bella Vista in 2009 to care for an ailing mother, who’s 89. Soon he’ll be selling mom’s house to pay for putting her in a convalescent home, he said. And he needs a place he can afford on his $650-a-month social security check.
New Haven legal aid lawyer Amy Marx was present at the Monday morning stampede as the lottery began. She said she was “struck by the fact that each person standing in line, each person filling out an application, has a story of hardship and need.”
“It is so sad to see how many people in our community can not afford safe and decent housing for themselves and their families. Now more than ever, with the economy so bad and with so many people out of work, the need is so great,” she said. “Unfortunately, only a few win the lottery and get the help that they need to afford housing.”
People have until the end of the work day on Friday to submit applications at 360 Orange St.
Lottery conductors (housing authority staffers) don’t draw winning tickets out of a hat or a ball. They spend weeks feeding data from the thousands of applications into a computer system. Then the computer randomly selects qualified winners.
Instead of spending time and money loading all of this data into computers, why not just draw names out of a hat? Then vet those selected by reading their applications (with your eyeballs, not a computer) to see if they qualify.
posted by: Pedro Soto on December 20, 2011 9:16am
Can someone explain to me how this process works? I’m just confused why people from out of state and out of New Haven County are applying for spaces here in New Haven.
posted by: anon on December 20, 2011 9:18am
How many waiting list spots are being offered this year for this group in Hamden, East Haven, and Branford?
posted by: cedarhillresident on December 20, 2011 9:40am
This is the one program I wish the state would investigate. When newly divorced, and jobless after being a housewife for so many years I went to apply for this while going to school. I was put on a 5 year waiting list (at that time many many years ago). Got back in the work force, only to come across many people who did have this. But who had the fathers of there children living in the house who made double what I made for a living. Not one person but many people. Even know a women right now that rents out a room and is on this… had an other neighbor that was kicked out of the building for dealing (pre her lease) who had 2 people living in the house that were not on the lease.
This is a great and needed program. But it is not there for the people that really need it in times of emergency. (which is what it was created for) because of the out right abuse of the program.
Sorry venting but this and child support enforcement or my biggest pet peeves.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 20, 2011 9:47am
If you do like new york and go to the system Of rent control and rent stabilization or the Mitchell-Lama Housing Program you would not have this problem.
I called the Section 8 office, and after waiting for about 45 minutes, I asked the person on the other end, what about those who have been on the waiting list previously ? Because I have been on the list since 2005 and still nothing. She stated she did not have an answer for that.
posted by: Fair and Legitimate Process Needed on December 20, 2011 11:43am
I agree with cedarhillresident. This program desperately needs an overhaul along with welfare and SNAP. There are so many people who could use this help for a finite period of time while going through times of financial and personal hardship who do not get the help they need, because there are so many people abusing the system. Tell me, how can you afford a two-color weave, but not rent? People have their priorities screwed up. I often go without to provide for my kids. I live a frugal life, I shop at Goodwill, and I pay my bills out of my own pocket on one salary. It’s not always easy, but it can be done.
Some people don’t abuse the system and move on when they are able to. Others need to stop spending money on acrylic nails, fancy clothes and accessories, electronics, smart phones, unnecessary hairdos, etc. and put that money toward decent housing and caring for their children.
posted by: Morris Cove Mom on December 20, 2011 11:56am
I don’t understand this. The income guidelines are “$20,100 to $40,2000 for a two-member household; $33,150 to $66,300 for an eight-member household”?
I support a family of 4 (myself, my husband, my 2 children), on less than $35,000 per year. We own a house, live in a nice neighborhood, and live below our means.
I see a lot of fancy hair, clothes, and jewelry in the pictures above. And having had a job before in dealing with Section 8 voucher holders, I saw a lot of cash, cell phones, jewelry, and fancy clothes and cars.
While I feel for those who are stuck and trying, I have to say most are living above their means and not trying. What would benefit them more than a handout voucher would be job training classes, free interim daycare, and budgeting classes, like home-ec used to have.
It can be done, you just have to worry less about how to look, and more about how you act.
posted by: Rosemarie Satto on December 20, 2011 1:06pm
I work a full time job, I went to school and college and worked a 2nd job while my husband put himself through college. I’d love to buy a condo at 360 State, but that’s out of reach for me.
I guess I should just quit my job, run up some debt, and spend my days waiting in offices at City Hall for benefits provided by people who work. Maybe I should take the advice of the anon guy and just go demand free housing from other towns too.
We can all get free stuff!!
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 20, 2011 2:02pm
posted by: Fair and Legitimate Process Needed on December 20, 2011 11:43am
Some people don’t abuse the system and move on when they are able to. Others need to stop spending money on acrylic nails, fancy clothes and accessories, electronics, smart phones, unnecessary hairdos, etc. and put that money toward decent housing and caring for their children
posted by: SaveOurCity on December 20, 2011 2:30pm
Morris Cove Mom and Rosemarie Satto;
Sadly, you have both hit upon the problem with government hand outs. What begins as a program to assist those in need metastasizes into a corrupt system that benefits those who learn how to play the game.
We are all worse off when real working families see this kind of abuse and become discouraged. Yet, our leaders (Obama, Malloy, Destafano) scream when there is any effort to fix and downsize these monstrous systems. And we wonder why our governments are broke….
We MUST elect people willing to dig in and repair these problems - sooner rather than later
posted by: Un-needed apartment. on December 20, 2011 3:09pm
I know a woman living in a four bedroom apt., she has one bedroom on the first floor, three bedrooms upstairs. One and a half bathrooms, the heat is included. She pays $40. Section 8 pays the rest. She lives there alone,,, her kids are grown and gone. Why does she need all those rooms,, why can’t they “down size” her and give that place to someone with little kids. That is crazy.
posted by: NewHavenerToo on December 20, 2011 4:33pm
That’s great! But there is only one problem. The pre-applications first handed out indicate that this lottery was for TENANT BASED HCV. This article indicates that it is for PROJECT BASED assistance. Did anyone clarify this to those who applied yesterday?
[Editor: In some cases the projects are technically run by private outfits under contract with the housing authority.]
posted by: NewHavenerToo on December 20, 2011 6:11pm
The management of the project is not the issue. The issue is the fact that people who applied for this wait-list draw were under the impression that this is for a shopping voucher, which means that the family may have the option of using this assistance for a unit of their choice
posted by: Leonidas on December 20, 2011 8:33pm
@ anon - I believe Hamden opened their list last year. For many housing authorities, even those in larger cities, opening the list is quite rare.
I can’t believe all the comments about people’s hair and nails. Yes it may seem like an extravagance, but I would bet you that the difference it would make in income would be minuscule. And besides, many people have relatives and friends who do this for them at no cost.
And what are people supposed to do - walk around with shaved heads and sack cloth? Not that I’m saying there is no abuse, lord knows there is, but I doubt it is so for most people. Maybe all the bailed out (with our tax dollars) bankers and their wives/husbands should have been required to give up one vacation home or stop getting 450 dollar haircuts and dye jobs.
What folks need are good paying jobs. I’m sure Jasmine Black and those like her would much rather be offered a stable, good paying job that would enable her to afford her own apt rather than a section 8 voucher. Instead what we do is help large companies increase their profits by allowing them to pay sub standard wages and benefits and force the taxpayer to foot the tab for making up the difference. Then after it all we blame the victim.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 21, 2011 9:53am
For all of you who cry about my tax dollars.Check this out.She does not have to pay taxes on this.
22-year-old sets NYC record with purchase of $88 million apartment
When former Citigroup chairman Sandy Weill listed his $88 million Manhattan apartment in November it had the potential to break the record for the highest individual transaction in New York City history.
The record has been broken — by a 22-year-old. Forbes magazine reports the daughter of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev is buying the 6,744-foot condo at 15 Central Park West. Ekaterina Rybolovleva attends college in the United States (it’s unclear which one) and she plans to use the apartment when visiting the city.
According to a statement from her representatives published in Forbes, Rybolovleva was born in Russia, is a resident of Monaco and has lived in Monaco and Switzerland for the past 15 years.
Morris Cove Mom, it’s ‘30 to 60 percent of’ median income, so anywhere from $6,030 to $24,120 for a family of 2, etc..
posted by: State of the state is bad on December 21, 2011 4:23pm
Until our state representatives are willing to forgo potential votes in the name of saving our state’s fiscal fiasco and make some tough decisions to overhaul the Social Services Departments and get rid of these horrid programs, this state is doomed to continue attracting slugs and leeches who know how to work the system and take the earnings of our hard working citizens. I am sickened that I am now subsidizing people from NY because the benefit is better here. Arghhhhh.
That lady said she has been looking for a job at Schick. Okay, and? Hello, there are more companies than Schick. I’m just saying, how about expanding your search a little.
I have the jobless showing up at my place of business often, begging me to sign a piece of paper stating they applied for a job. When I tell them I don’t accept solicitors asking for job and I, therefore, won’t sign their paper, they go ape on me.
The system rewards those who know how to work it rather than help those who have a real and serious gap in income over expenses.
I am sad that there aren’t more jobs in CT but lets face it, we are paying some of the highest taxes in the state because we are funding a broken system that will only put further strains on our economy. It does not do good for the economy, the currently employed or those unmotivated to move on in life because we provide for them endlessly.
I had a lady working for me that left and never came back because she was on to her 6th child from a different man. Apparently there is some part of the Section 8 and WIC policy that if you have a newborn you renew and can’t fall off the system. Come on. And the children are the ones that suffer.
I was in line at the grocery store behind a lady with two children who had a cart of groceries. She used her WIC Card to pay for the groceries then took out a wad of cash and bought 2 cartons of cigarettes! Excuse me! You are addicted to cigarettes but somehow believe that my tax dollars should pay for your kids to eat.
I really hope that the liberals in this state understand what their policies are doing to us and make some changes. CT should make it the goal that we want to attract workers and if people can’t work then they can go to a state with a lottery, but not our State. We are too small of a state to be supporting all this nonsense.
Lets help those honestly suffering.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 21, 2011 9:16pm
posted by: State of the state is bad on December 21, 2011 4:23pm Until our state representatives are willing to forgo potential votes in the name of saving our state’s fiscal fiasco and make some tough decisions to overhaul the Social Services Departments and get rid of these horrid programs, this state is doomed to continue attracting slugs and leeches who know how to work the system and take the earnings of our hard working citizens. I am sickened that I am now subsidizing people from NY because the benefit is better here. Arghhhhh
How would you like your taxes dollars to pay for this.
City Aids Homeless With One-Way Tickets Home By JULIE BOSMAN