On Monday, the Independent Life Center closed its waiting list for Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers, which help low-income families, the elderly and individuals with disabilities find affordable housing. Evelyn Tileston, ILC executive director, said she believes HUD fair market rental prices run lower than Moffat County housing costs. George Antoine, HUD regional economist, said the agency recently conducted a survey to assess housing prices in Moffat County and other energy-impacted areas.

File photo

On Monday, the Independent Life Center closed its waiting list for Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers, which help low-income families, the elderly and individuals with disabilities find affordable housing. Evelyn Tileston, ILC executive director, said she believes HUD fair market rental prices run lower than Moffat County housing costs. George Antoine, HUD regional economist, said the agency recently conducted a survey to assess housing prices in Moffat County and other energy-impacted areas.

Independent Life Center closing housing vouchers wait list

At a glance

• The Independent Life Center closed its waiting list Monday for Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers, which help low-income families, the elderly and disabled obtain housing.

• Out of 81 vouchers the ILC had to distribute this year, 12 remained undistributed because many area rental costs exceeded the program's fair market rent standards.

• The Department of Housing and Urban Development finished conducting a telephone survey last month to determine current housing costs.

• A regional HUD official said the survey was conducted in response to increased housing needs in Moffat County.

— The wet, white accumulation of a spring snowstorm this weekend left more than snowpiles behind for Evelyn Tileston, Independent Life Center executive director.

It also highlighted an area housing problem

"We have people who are desperate," she said. "They don't have a place to live.

"It's snowing out there."

Yet, some of those families may have to wait until next year before they can apply for vouchers that could help them get affordable housing.

On Monday, the ILC closed its waiting list for Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers, Tileston said.

The next opportunity for area residents to get on that list may not come until January, she said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development created the voucher program to help "very low income families, the elderly and the disabled afford decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private market," according to HUD's Web site.

Families that make 50 percent or less than their county's median income may be eligible for the program, the Web site reported.

Other factors, including the percentage of a family or individual's income devoted to rent and utilities, also come into play when determining voucher eligibility, Tileston said.

The ILC is the sole agency that distributes the vouchers in Moffat County. Nearly 100 area families have applied for the vouchers or have been approved to receive one as they become available, Tileston said.

That's about three times as many as the agency had on record six months ago.

The increase "just shows me how out of reach housing in Moffat County has become for moderate- to low-income people," Tileston said.

Yet, the problem isn't solely tied to the number of applicants.

Of the 81 vouchers the ILC had to distribute this year, 12 were not given out, Tileston said.

The reason: Not enough area rental units meet HUD's fair market rent prices and rental terms, Tileston said.

To use their vouchers, qualified families and individuals must find rental housing within a price range set by HUD. Individuals who have qualified for the vouchers are "having an extremely difficult time finding units" that meet that requirement, Tileston wrote in an e-mail.

"Therefore, it is unrealistic for us to continue to accept applications when there is little to no hope that families will be able to use their voucher even if they get one."

Tileston said she thinks HUD's fair market rental standards aren't keeping pace with Moffat County's growing demand for housing.

It's a situation a recently conducted survey may help remedy, said George Antoine, HUD regional economist.

The agency completed a random digit dialing survey earlier last month to determine area housing costs. HUD will use the survey results to assess fair market rent requirements in Moffat County.

The final survey results are "pending," he said, adding he could not estimate when they would be available.

The survey was conducted in response to the rising housing demand in Moffat County and other energy-impacted areas, he said.

"Our headquarters decided to devote some money to do a survey" in smaller, energy-impacted regions including Moffat County, Antoine said.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

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