"It helps people:" Lottery for rent assistance in Milwaukee opens for first time since 2001

MILWAUKEE -- For the first time in 15 years, Milwaukee County residents have the chance to apply for a Section 8 housing voucher. The lottery to get on the wait list opened up Tuesday, July 12th.

People line up hoping to get rent assistance

At 15th and Vliet Tuesday afternoon, despite the stifling heat, a line wound all the way around the block.

The Section 8 Housing Program offers rent assistance to low-income individuals and families to help them afford safe and clean housing.

"It helps people, you know? Get rid of these bed bugs and roaches and whatever. We don't have to live like that no more," said Lisa Haymon.

Hundreds joined Haymon in line, waiting for the chance to enter their name in a lottery to be placed on the wait list.

The wait list had been closed since 2001. At one point, nearly 6,000 individuals and families were on that wait list. Officials were able to clear out that list. Some people found other assistance, while others moved or passed away. Then, they made some major changes to the program to try to get more people needed help.

Person applies to chance to get rent assistance

"It did limit the amount that we were spending per family with the goal of balancing, still providing decent housing for those in our program with getting to help as many people as we could," said Dena Hunt, Milwaukee County Rent Assistance program manager.

Officials are hoping the recent changes will allow around 1,900 families to be supported by the program. They expect to move people off of the wait list much more quickly.

Eligible people can still enter their names in this lottery on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

People line up hoping to get rent assistance