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Applications can be submitted until Jan. 17. Eligibility for Housing Works voucher program is income-based.

SUSAN MATHENY/MADRAS PIONEER - Housing Works Director David Brandt cuts the ribbon on house No. 6 in Madras, surrounded by YouthBuild crew members and partners in 2018.Local residents in need of rental assistance will soon have an opportunity to apply for help through a regional housing authority.

Housing Works, which serves Jefferson County as well as neighboring Crook and Deschutes counties, will be taking applications for its Housing Choice Voucher Waiting List from Monday, Jan. 13 to Friday, Jan. 17.

The housing voucher program is intended to provide rental assistance to Central Oregon residents, which covers a percentage of their rent expense.

"It's tenant-based," said Lesly Gonzalez, the Housing Choice Voucher director for Housing Works, "so if they contribute 30% of their income (to rental costs), Housing Works subsidizes the rest."

Eligibility is determined by income. Applicants must have a household income that is 50 percent of the area median income or less. That threshold for Jefferson County starts at $20,150 for a single-person household and climbs to $31,050 for a five-person household.

Residents needing assistance can apply online at the Housing Works website for the Central Oregon region. On the home page is a button labeled "Apply."

"It will take you to the online application as well as the information on our income limits and how to determine if somebody is eligible," Gonzalez said. "When they apply online, it asks for the name, household information, date of birth, address and income information. From that point on, their name gets put on the waiting list."

Gonzalez stressed that the window to apply does not open until the designated week in January. She added that people who applied in January 2019 should reapply if they want assistance in 2020.

"Applications do not carry over," she said.

The application process also includes some preference options, Gonzalez said. People who already live or work in one of the three Central Oregon counties are given preference by Housing Works over people applying who live outside the region. Also, anybody who is homeless or disabled is given preference on the waiting list.

The voucher wait list only addresses funding for rental assistance. Where they choose to apply the voucher is up to them.

"It's tenant-based, so they get to pick where they want to live," Gonzalez said. "That might be their current residence, or they might choose to move."

Housing Works announced in April that it is building two-bedroom apartments on 1.27 acres just north of the Madras commercial district.

"... Madras desperately need more affordable housing," said David Brandt, the organization's executive director. "With vacancy rates still painfully low throughout Central Oregon and many renter households burdened by housing costs, these new communities will provide affordable homes to 90 low-income families. We are hopeful to have these new apartments completed by the fall of 2020."


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