Some Atlantans needing help to pay rent will have a rare chance to sign up for housing assistance Wednesday.
The city's housing authority is re-opening its wait list for Section 8 vouchers for the first time in more than two years.
However, for some low-income residents, like Athena Robinson, past experiences applying for the wait list have left them with low expectations.
On a recent weekday morning, Robinson returned from working an overnight shift as a security guard and contemplated when she would get some rest.
“I'll probably take a nap at 1 p.m., get up around 3 or 4 p.m., pick up my child and do what I need to do for him,” she said.
Robinson is a single parent and said it's hard to make ends meet.
She’s been interested in a Section 8 voucher ever since she had her son several years ago. But she said she’s never had any luck getting on the wait list.
“I've applied in the past. I've always gotten denied,” Robinson said. “It just says they did the lottery and my name wasn't selected.”
She said it doesn't make sense to her, since she thinks she must meet the program's job requirement.
“I feel like if I'm working, providing, doing what I can to keep a job. I don't understand why someone like me wouldn't be able to get it,” she said.
That may be because a lot of other people apply.
In 2015, more than 100,000 tried to sign up for the city's housing wait list, but only 10,000 were chosen in the lottery.
Atlanta Housing Authority CEO Catherine Buell said the agency is expecting just as many applications this time, but has made changes to the process.
For one, AHA now gives preference to Atlanta residents, since many who applied last time were from elsewhere. The wait list also has been expanded to 30,000 spots.
“So we anticipate by pulling 30,000 names, we will in fact be able to give an opportunity for residents in the city of Atlanta to have affordable housing,” Buell said.
That’s if the residents on the list can wait for the housing vouchers. Buell said it may take three to five years to work through all the names.
For now, Robinson is in supportive housing for families through a nonprofit called Community Concerns, Inc. It’s temporary though—residents can stay in the program for just a few years.