For the first time since 2011, the Chester Housing Authority (CHA) is accepting new applications for the agency’s affordable homes for rent. Low-income families, seniors and disabled citizens have until Nov. 30th to fill out the online application to lease an available home through CHA.
“The shortage of affordable housing has become more acute in recent years,” said Steven A. Fischer, CHA’s executive director. “When you compound the federal funding cutbacks for housing with the devastating effects that the recession left behind for poor people, it just makes the need that much greater. In Chester, that means the length of time between when we can accept applications keeps expanding.”
After applying, applicants are notified by mail that their information has been entered in CHA’s system and then wait anywhere from six months to a few years to move to the top of the list. Once an applicant makes it to the top of the waiting list, the information on their pre-application is verified. That includes income and assets as well as deductions for expenses such as childcare and healthcare. Credit and criminal reports are also run on all family members 18 and older listed on the application.
In recent years CHA has received a string of very high ratings by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the management and condition of both its public housing and Housing Choice Voucher Program properties.
“Our housing has become more desirable and that contributes to the demand. People are applying because of the need but they are also applying because of the quality,” Fischer said.
HUD recently notified CHA that it has again been evaluated as a “high performer” in both the public housing and voucher programs, earning a 97 out of 100 for its management of the voucher program, its highest score ever.
This call for applications does not include the voucher program (sometimes called Section 8) in which residents receive a subsidy to use to pay a portion of their rent to a private-market landlord. That waiting list was last opened two years ago and CHA received so many applications it had to resort to a lottery to determine placement on the waiting list.
Those wishing to apply for public housing can access the application at www.chesterha.org.