SECTION 8: ENOUGH?

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New York City is dipping into its pool of federal housing vouchers at historic levels to help families affected by the World Trade Center attacks.

The city Department of Housing Preservation and Development plans to give out up to 1,000 Section 8 vouchers by April 1 to help families who’ve suffered a 25 percent or larger drop in income as a result of the events of September 11. These coupons are meant to help families stay in their homes, said HPD spokesperson Carol Abrams.

Typically, Section 8 certificates go toward helping people who earn less than half the city’s median family income–$59,000–to find affordable housing. The new eligibility criteria for Trade Center victims will help families who’ve lost a job or loved one pay for their housing. As of November 5, the agency had received 431 applications for the vouchers from households around the city.

With HPD’s Section 8 voucher pool limited to 1,850–the Housing Authority has about another 76,000–some housing advocates wonder how this new program might affect the 210,000 other New Yorkers on the wait list for vouchers.

“We need more Section 8 support out of Washington if we want to solve the problem,” said Shelly Nortz, deputy director for policy at the New York Coalition for the Homeless. “I know 1,000 people will benefit from these vouchers, but for every one who does, there’s 10 behind them in line.”

Abrams said the city plans to appeal to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for additional voucher funds. Last month, HUD gave the city $5 million for relief costs like agency office repairs and overtime pay, but none of that went toward vouchers.