Crowds flock to PA for HUD vouchers

Published 6:43 pm Thursday, August 13, 2015

Neither the threat of more rain, or sweltering heat kept people away from Port Arthur Thursday where the city’s Housing Authority was replenishing its waiting for list for those in need of public housing assistance.

And, if the long line going out the door and snaking around the Robert E. “Bob” Bowers Center in Port Arthur is any indication, the need is real, Cele Quesada, Port Arthur Housing Authority director, said.

“Obviously, this expresses a need we have for affordable housing and the difficulty even working families have in paying market rent that exists on homes today,” Quesada said Thursday while surveying the filled-to-capacity Civic Center.

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For someone making minimum wage, it is next to impossible to pay the average $700 market rent plus utilities, Quesada said.

Civic Center doors opened at 9 a.m., but as early as Wednesday morning some were waiting in line to be the first to get an application for the Housing Choice Voucher Program that would hopefully lead to housing assistance, Paula Watts, Port Arthur Housing Authority deputy director, said.

Anyone interested in Section 8 housing assistance from Jefferson, Orange or Hardin counties were eligible to come to Port Arthur Thursday and pick up an application.

By 10 a.m. about 1,000 had come through the Civic Center doors, and were seated in the Center’s large auditorium while others waited outside for their chance to get a voucher application.

Nathan Wade, 58, of Beaumont came alone, hoping to get assistance on a house. He currently lives in an apartment in Beaumont, but would like a place with a yard .

“I think my two grandsons will be living with me. They need somewhere to play, and I want them to have somewhere to play,” he said.

Others, like Latrice Kelley, 42, came from cities outside the area, hoping to relocate here.

Kelley is currently living with her children in a substance abuse treatment facility. Her time is running out to live there, so she needs somewhere to move, she said.

“I have 30 days to find somewhere to go, and I heard about this thorough word of mouth, so we came here today hoping to get some help,” Kelley said.

Watts said by the end of the day, she expected many more to show up.

Last year when the Port Arthur Housing Authority opened its waiting list during a two-day event, 2,600 were provided with applications for a chance to get a housing voucher.

For those who qualify for a voucher, they can live anywhere that offers affordable housing.

Preference is given to those who are homeless, disabled, and those who are working.

Quesada said the goal is to be able to help 300 people in need of housing assistance.


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