Hundreds Bear Heat for Possible Housing Help

8:50 PM, Aug 10, 2010   |    comments
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  • Hundreds line up for public housing waiting list in East Point.
  • Hundreds line up for public housing waiting list in East Point

EAST POINT, GA - Hundreds of people are sweltering in the heat just for a chance, only a chance, to get government housing assistance from the City of East Point.

"It is worth it, you know, to be able to secure a place for me and my family. It is very much worth it," said Nicole Johnson.

She was one of the first people in a line that began about noon on Monday and stretched clear around the Tri-Cities Plaza Shopping Center in East Point by Tuesday afternoon.

The crowd gradually grew as people learned that East Point's Housing Authority would be handing out applications for a public housing assistance waiting list beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

"The economy is getting real tough right now," said Demetrius Fields, who was also one of the early arrivals. "I'm having to work two jobs just to make ends meet or what not and trying to get some assistance to help me out with that."

Right now East Point's nearly 200 public housing units are full and more than 400 Section 8 vouchers for help with private housing rent are also being used.

That means the best the crowd can hope for is to get on a new waiting list in case any vacancies come up in the future.

The last time East Point opened its waiting list was in 2002 when about 2,400 people signed up.

This time they expect thousands more thanks to the bad economy.

"We have a lot of homeless families, a lot of families who're unemployed and it creates a desperate situation, which is what our agency was created to assist with," said East Point Housing Authority Executive Director Kim Lemish.

Anyone in line before 1 p.m. Wednesday will get an application for the waiting list, no matter where they are in line.

The crunch will come Thursday when they may return the completed applications to the housing authority's office.

Applications will be considered based on how soon they come in, but right now Lemish says there are no slots available in the city's public housing or Section 8 program.

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