More than 54,000 applications accepted during two-week opening of PHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program
Philadelphia, PA – March 19, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — The Philadelphia Housing Authority received an overwhelming 54,000 applications over a two-week period for the agency’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, 61% coming on-line through the PHA website.
The outreach marked the first time PHA used its on-line application system, which performed flawlessly despite being inundated with nearly 33,000 applications.
The other 21,000 applications came via phone. Rather than outsource this work to a call center company, PHA recruited employees from across all agency departments to work shifts taking calls and applications.
“We learned two things from this process. First, there are even more families, seniors and disabled citizens who need help paying their rent than we thought. Second, PHA staff and systems are able to perform beautifully without outside help. They made sure everyone who wanted to apply was able to do so, and without a long wait,” said PHA Executive Director Carl Greene.
PHA began pulling the first names from the fresh list on March 19. (The list had been open from March 1 through March 15.) PHA estimates that each year about 2,500 voucher holders leave the program, creating opportunities for those on the list who are in need of assistance.
The applications received so far are preliminary. Once an individual’s or family’s name is pulled from the list, the applicant must come in for a thorough background check and screening. The amount of rental assistance an applicant receives is based on the household’s income.
The Housing Choice Voucher program depends on high quality licensed landlords to accept vouchers toward the rent.
“Landlords are the heart of the program because without them these voucher holders wouldn’t have places to apply. We are always looking for new, qualified landlords to join the program and offer as much selection as possible to Housing Choice clients,” Director Greene said
All houses and apartments approved for the program must pass a Housing Quality Standards inspection and all landlords must be licensed and participate in PHA’s full-day property management course. These requirements ensure good property conditions and lessen community concerns.
PHA affords residents the opportunity to enroll in economic self-sufficiency programs, so that they can receive job and vocational training and counseling. Hundreds of participants leave the program each year as they gain full-time employment and are able to pay their rent or buy a home without assistance.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is funded by the federal government and managed by PHA. With 17,000 households, it is PHA’s largest program. (The agency also houses more than 14,000 households in its public housing program.)
PHA will soon offer the same on-line application option used for this outreach for its public housing program.