CMHA’s housing voucher program goes completely digital

For the first time in years, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority will open the waiting list for its Housing Choice Voucher program. Additionally, the week-long application period will, for the first time ever, be completely digital.

In past years individuals applying to be included in the program could do so in person, but now applicants must apply online. CMHA officials say that those who do not have access to a personal computer may apply at one of 22 locations throughout Hamilton County. The full list of application sites can be found on CMHA’s website, at 1635 Western Avenue or can be provided by calling (513) 977-5757.

Hamilton County HCV Application Centers

“This is going to be a huge, county-wide effort for the week of April 4-8,” a representative with the Cincinnati office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) told UrbanCincy. “It’s been years since the list was open, so I can only imagine there will be great demand.”

The application period will run from 12:01am on Monday, April 4 until 11:59pm on Friday, April 8. Those applying will be placed into a lottery which will determine who will be included on CMHA’s waiting list.

The Housing Choice Voucher program was previously known as the housing agency’s Section 8 housing voucher program. It works by providing housing assistance to those in financial need. Low-income families apply for the program, and based on financial need, are given gap financial assistance to cover the costs of private rental units throughout Hamilton County.

Those using the program are required to pay 30 percent of their income toward the rent, and the remainder will be covered through the gap financing. The properties which participate in the HCV program, as a result, are owned and managed by private property owners.

  • Wow and they wonder why they get cited over and over again by HUD for the inefficient way they handle things.

    If we ‘assume’ the principal that these people are low income , they ‘probably’ wouldn’t have things like computers or smart phones. I see a real ‘disconnect’ with clients here and the way they would be living if they are really low income.

    Also looking at the application map for centers there seems like a lot of “gaps’ in the service centers, perhaps because the Section 8 program ‘targets” some areas for low income while leaving others alone?

  • @Paul WIllham: I too found it a bit peculiar that CMHA decided to go with a completely digital application process. But after further thought this problems saves the housing agency some money in terms of overhead costs, and applicants still have roughly two dozen locations to go to and apply.

    These locations are all locations that will have people their to assist them when applying, and does not count any public Internet locations like all of the public libraries throughout the county. I would imagine the biggest hurdle will be getting the information out there. I am not sure how many housing voucher applicants read UrbanCincy, but I would imagine a decent amount of social service agencies do. Hopefully those agencies read this story and then share the information with those who this will impact.

  • sounds kinda funny, especially having the list of locations posted on the website for people without internet access.
    You can get a crappy computer pretty cheap these days. Friends & family have ’em & give old ones away. Some of the people who are eligible would have internet access through work or school & again friends & family.

  • Matt Jacob

    Paul, I read recently that Green Township and Hyde Park were getting in trouble for blocking new Section 8 because the people who accept/reject the new applications lived in those areas and didn’t want it in their backyard. Must be great programs if even the people running them are afraid…

    Personally I’m not sold on the concept of this voucher program. They get a discount on their rental rates with the government picking up the rest, but there aren’t any strings attached to their spending. I’d like to see a savings requirement to develop good behavior, which might actually give them a chance at getting out of the cycle, or at least their children.

  • @Matt Jacob: The idea behind the program is that studies have shown that no household should be spending more than 30% of their after-tax income on housing costs. So the rest of someone’s expenditures in this program is somewhat irrelevant, as it is just trying to provide affordable housing.

    So whether the people who utlize this program take the remaining 70% and blow it on candy and video games, or invest it in education and job training really doesn’t matter. You could make the argument that social programs should attempt to groom behavioral patterns, but then that opens up a can of worms about government controlling and grooming what it sees as right.

  • Matt Jacob

    That’s really the point that I was trying to make, that social programs should attempt to groom good behavioral patterns like saving money in order to break the cycle of poverty.

    In many cases people in poverty are actually put in the opposite position by being forced to live with others in the same programs with the same bad behaviors, which only reinforces the behaviors and traps them in the system.

    People might not like the government telling them what to do, but if they reach this point in the system, they obviously need some guidance into making better life decisions.