Hundreds line up for Section 8 vouchers

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) – Hundreds of people rushed to Wyoming on Monday to get on the waiting list for Section 8 housing, as it was the first time in four years that an agency in Kent County allowed people to sign up.

Police were called to the Wyoming Housing Commission on 36th Street SW after people started to push and shove each other to get into the building as the line grew.

Before 24 Hour News 8 arrived late Monday morning, it was a free-for-all. There was no line, numbers had not been handed out to applicants in the order in which they had arrived, and the ten people who were taking applicant information at the housing commission weren’t enough to handle the crowds.

Midway through the day, officers tried to regain control of the crowd by handing out tickets with numbers and setting up cones to keep people in line.

Will Bowbell, who arrived at 7 a.m. with his son to get a voucher, had been waiting for five hours when he spoke with 24 Hour News 8.

“We’ve been trying to go in and out of the building to keep our son warm,” Bowbell said. “He’s a newborn. We don’t want him out in this weather.”

Rebeca Venema, the executive director of the Wyoming Housing Commission, said vouchers were handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Every voucher application has a date and time stamp, and the earlier applicants arrived Monday, the sooner they would be called for an interview to find out if they’re eligible.  Disabled people, the elderly and families are considered first, but even they are considered in the order in which they signed up.

The list to apply for the housing vouchers opens only when the current waiting list shortens. The last time it opened up, other local agencies had their lists open as well. But Monday, only Wyoming opened its list.

“It’s a high demand at this point because it has been closed for almost four years,” Venema said.

It could be three to five years before the people who signed up Monday receive assistance.

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