King County Housing Authority sees major increase in poverty among voucher applicants

During the two-week application period, which ended on April 18, the King County Housing Authority received nearly 20,000 applications for rental assistance. The volume of applications highlights the critical need for housing assistance in the region.

Some 19,500 households with 43,012 family members, including 18,000 children, applied for assistance.

• The applications show that poverty and housing instability has increased dramatically in the region since the waiting list last opened in 2015.

• The number of households reporting zero income more than doubled, jumping from 12 percent in 2015 to 29 percent in 2017.

• The median income for all applicant households fell by nearly $1,000, when adjusted for inflation. The median income of households applying in 2017 was $8,820 per year.

• 60 percent of all applicants reported that they were currently homeless, an increase from 47 percent in 2015.

Among 2017 applicants:

• The homelessness rate among households with children increased from 44 percent in 2015 to 59 percent, an increase of 15 percent. Ten thousand children live in these homeless households.

• More than 2,750 children live in households experiencing homelessness while fleeing domestic violence.

• The number of households with at least one elderly or disabled family member increased to 56 percent of all applicants.

• Elderly households were five times more likely to have no income from any source this year than in 2015.

• The demand for housing for veterans who have served in America’s armed forces accounted for more than 700 applications. Over 400 reported that they are currently homeless.

“This response, over a brief two-week period, reveals the extent of our region’s housing crisis,” said Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority. “Housing is a fundamental platform on which everything else – steady employment, educational outcomes for children, health – depends. This is a problem that impacts everyone in our community.”

A lottery is in May to determine which of the 19,462 families will be placed on the waiting list, which is capped at 3,500 slots. The first applicants on the list will be issued vouchers in June. Depending on federal funding, those at the tail end of the list could face a wait of five or more years to obtain a voucher.

Currently, KCHA provides rental assistance to 11,300 families. Generally the program pays the difference between the rent charged by a housing owner and the assisted household’s rental contribution, which is set at approximately 30 percent of the household’s income adjusted for family size and utility costs. More than 3,000 landlords participate in the program.

“With rents continuing to increase across the county by double digits, low-income households are failing to find housing they can afford,” Norman said. “This program is an essential part of our region’s safety net. Proposed federal cuts in funding will see more children, more elderly, more veterans, living on our streets.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Business

Cash Cards Unlimited partners, left: Nick Nugwynne, right: Cassius Marsh (photo credit: Cash Cards Unlimited)
Former Seahawks player Cassius Marsh cashes in on trading cards

Marsh and his friend open physical and online trading card store as collectibles boom amid pandemic.

Teaser
First large-scale, human composting facility in the world will open in Auburn

“It’s what nature meant us to do. We just do it faster.”

The 7-story apartment building Teutsch Partners LLC has been at work on for Seattle-based NW Holdings for the last two years is nearing completion at 1st Street Southeast and South Division Street. The owners are set to begin leasing apartments this spring. Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter.
7-story apartment building nears finish line

The 7-story apartment building Teutsch Partners LLC has been at work on… Continue reading

Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter
A draft ordinance proposes to apply a square-footage tax on the city’s warehousing along with a possible Business and Occupation tax to help the city stave off steep deficits.
Auburn studies first draft of proposed B&O tax

Berk Consulting Agency of Seattle studied the city of Auburn’s general fund… Continue reading

Whole Foods grocery store entrance (Shutterstock)
King County considers grocery store worker hazard pay for those in unincorporated areas

The King County Metropolitan Council will vote during its next meeting on… Continue reading

Dan Olmstead of Poverty Bay Coffee Company. Courtesy photo
Paying their fair share of taxes: Ad features Auburn business owner

An Auburn coffee roaster is one of four small business owners in… Continue reading

Screenshot
WA Democrats consider new tax on billionaires

Plan could raise $5 billion from fewer than 100 taxpayers. Detractors fear it could drive Washington’s wealthiest out of state.

Last summer, people took advantage of the outdoor dining along First Avenue between Gowe and Titus streets in downtown Kent. In Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Photo courtesy of Kent Downtown Partnership
Restaurant reprieve: State to relax some indoor restrictions

On Monday, area restaurants and certain entertainment venues may resume indoor service, the governor said.

Stock photo
State Senate passes $1.7 billion in unemployment insurance tax relief

Targets relief to the most affected businesses; helps low-wage workers by raising their benefits

The vendor was located at the Southeast corner of Military Road S. and S. Star Lake Road.
Unlicensed food vendor shut down for selling tamales from ice chest

King County Public Health shut down the Federal Way vendor on Monday, Jan. 25.

Firefighters on Tuesday donated $1,000 to Athens Pizza and Pasta to help the restaurant continue to pay its employees until it can reopen after effecting necessary repairs following the December fire. Photo courtesy city of Auburn.
Firefighters step up for Athens Pizza

Union donates $1,000 to help owners pay employees while repairing restaurant.

2021 Chevrolet Blazer. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Blazer

By Larry Lark, contributor When it comes to certain car models they… Continue reading