Over 30,000 people showed up in East Point yesterday, a suburb of Atlanta, to obtain applications to receive Section 8 housing vouchers. The line began forming on Sunday, three days prior to the scheduled date the applications were to be handed out.
Thousands converged in the 90+ degree heat and at least 62 people needed medical attention and 20 of them were transported to a hospital.
A baby went into a seizure in the extreme heat and had to be stabilized at a hospital. Many people passed out from dehydration and heat exhaustion and several were removed on stretchers.
News reports show several people who had been waiting hours in a line started pushing, shoving and cursing, after they were told they’d been waiting in the wrong line.
The heat, combined with the frustrated citizens caused a near riot at the scene!
The agency said they expected about 10,000 people but three times as many showed up. Many were just accompanying those looking for an application. Many in the crowd had been waiting for as long as two days to seek housing assistance.
“When you look at the economy… and the desperation of people seeking affordable housing. This is what you get unfortunately.”
East Point police, some wearing riot helmets, were patrolling the area. Firefighters and EMTs were attending to people who were overheating in the sun. Police from College Park, Hapeville, Fulton County and MARTA assisted in crowd control.
There were no arrests and at the end of the day, some 13,000 applications were handed out. FULL STORY
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, called Section 8, subsidizes the rents of low-income families living in apartments and houses that are privately owned. The federal program makes up the difference in rent that the poor can afford and the fair market value for each area.
The federal government has specific standards for its subsidized properties but at the same time landlords are assured an income.
Only families with incomes no more than half the median income for the area qualify. The median income for the East Point area is less than $32,000, according to Census data. It is up to the renter to find a place that meets HUD standards, which includes being 90 percent to 110 percent of the “local fair market rent.”