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For The First Time In Six Years, Manatee County Opens Up Waitlist For Housing Vouchers

A county government building with American flag.
Manatee County Government
Across Florida, there is a shortage of rental homes affordable and available to extremely low-income households.

Also called tenant-based Section 8, the Housing Choice Voucher program is the federal government's largest rental assistance program.

For the first time since 2015, Manatee County is now accepting applications for Section 8 Housing.

Federal Housing Choice Vouchers help low-income people find affordable housing in the private housing market by reimbursing the landlord for the difference between what a household can afford to pay in rent and the monthly rental cost itself.

The program is designed to help families who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Severe rent burden is defined as paying more than 50 percent of one’s income on rent. The current percentage of renters in Manatee paying 30 percent or more of their income for gross rent is 52%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.

But while many of the county’s poorest residents qualify for federal subsidies, that doesn’t mean they'll receive it. Nationally, only 1 in 4 households that qualify for housing assistance get any. That's because there just isn't enough affordable housing stock available.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is no state, metropolitan area, or county in America, where a worker earning the federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40-hour week.

Applications for Manatee County's housing wait list are open through 6 p.m. Friday. Three thousand applicants will then be placed on the waiting list by a random lottery.

As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.
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