The wait has just begun - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

The wait has just begun

By Evan Johnson - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It was a familiar sight outside the Lake Charles Housing Authority as they once again started accepting applications for their Section 8 housing program.  The program assists low-income families in need of affordable housing and with the waiting list opening up in the midst of a dwindling economy many are in need of this help.

One Lake Area resident named Courtney says, "The cost of living is very expensive these days. We're single mothers trying to make it."

Stacey Jackson says, "I have three small kids and it's hard to find a decent job.  I'm doing the best I can, but rent is really, really high."

Autumn Olivier says, "Where I live there's high crime and I don't even let my kids go outside.  I have to get out of there and this is the only way right now that I can afford to do that."

More than 700 people lined up at the housing building on Bilbo Street to be among the first names on the list, but of those the housing authority says many may be left out in the cold.

Housing Authority Director Ben Taylor says, "Out of the 700 applicants we will lose quite possibly a good 40 percent of them to criminal backgrounds or previous landlord history."

Just like in 2007 when the Section 8 waiting list was last open, applicants had to wait outside, however this time the Lake Charles Housing Authority was prepared for the big turnout.  To keep residents from waiting a long time, they each signed the waiting list and were given an envelope filled with all of the necessary paperwork.  Residents say they're very pleased with the way everything went.

Courtney says, "The line was pretty long.  When I got here I was about to turn around, but I've only been out here for about 30 minutes at the most.  The line actually moved pretty quickly."

Jackson adds, "You expect stuff like this when you come out here so you just have to be patient. Patience is everything right now."

The Section 8 applicants have 10 days to mail the paperwork, along with all other needed documents, back to the housing authority.

The Lake Charles Section 8 waiting list will remain open indefinitely.  Anyone interested can apply at the Lake Charles Housing Authority located at 800 Bilbo Street Mondays - Thursday from 8:00 AM - 12 noon.

(Copyright 2009 KPLC-TV. All rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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