section 8 for rent signIt's no surprise that in these dire economic times, the sheer number of people in need of housing assistance in Oakland, California knocked the Oakland Housing Authority website offline for awhile today. (Edited: Looks like the site is actually having ongoing problems.)

The Oakland Housing Authority began accepting applications for Section 8 housing assistance at 8 a.m. this morning, and demand is incredibly high. The waiting list, which the county predicts will be greatly impacted this year, closes at 5 p.m. on January 29.

Currently, 11,000 Oakland families receive Section 8 subsidies and approximately 10,000 more will be added to the wait list this week. Eligible applicants are selected using an automated lottery system, which makes for a bit of a housing assistance frenzy in this large, urban community.

You might already be familiar with Section 8 housing assistance programs -- maybe you or a family member has even been, at some time in your lives, dependent on this type of subsidy system. Section 8 systems like the Oakland Housing Authority program in California, which is currently making news, help subsidize costs for low income people in housing where the landlords participate in the Section 8 program.

Some of the pros of such housing assistance programs can include placing homeless and struggling people in a home so they can get employed and/or seek education to up their odds of finding some success in the ailing job market. Of course, plenty of critics claim such programs are expensive to maintain and make the impoverished even more dependent.

Either way, there's no disputing today that lots of people and families are in need out there, and this program feels, at least to them, like a system that can help.

"There are always more families than we have money to serve," Housing Authority Executive Director Eric Johnson said, which coupled with the effects of the recession sounds like really really bad news.

Do you have a Section 8 story to tell -- pro or con?

 

Image via Editor B/Flickr