Fargo Housing has closed its waitlist for vouchers, citing ‘unmanageable’ demand

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The Lashkowitz High Rise is slated for demolition this fall. A new 110-unit public housing unit will be built in its place and is slated to be available for move-in in the spring of 2025. (KFGO file photo)

FARGO (KFGO) – The city’s public housing agency says it has closed a waitlist for new applicants seeking federal vouchers to help pay for affordable housing in Fargo due to too many people trying to access the assistance.

Fargo Housing CEO Chris Brungardt said the list was simply becoming unmanageable. He said the average time people on the waitlist were having to wait to find out if they were eligible for a voucher was exceeding a year at the time it was closed to new applicants on May 26. Fargo Housing’s goal is to keep the wait time to nine months or less.

“We want to make sure people can have an opportunity to receive public housing assistance in a reasonable amount of time. We don’t want to give false expectations that help is readily available,” said Brungardt said of the waitlist closure.

Fargo Housing is allocated 1,950 housing choice vouchers (formerly known as Section 8) by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Brungardt said 94% of those vouchers are currently spoken for, leaving just 110 still available. The current waitlist has about 1,300 people on it.

The last time Fargo Housing closed the waitlist to new applicants was in 2021. It was closed for more than year while Fargo Housing’s nine-person voucher review staff sifted through several thousand names until it was finally whittled down to a couple hundred in December and it reopened.

Now, just six months later, the list has ticked back up to over a thousand potential applicants. Brungardt says Fargo Housing didn’t let the waitlist get as long before it was closed, so they’re hoping it will open back up sooner than last time, but he said he couldn’t give a date-certain when that would happen.

Brungardt said the shortage of both public and voucher-eligible housing is an increasing problem in Fargo. He said with the closing of Lashkowitz High Rise in 2021, Fargo lost more than half of its city-owned public housing units, and that combined with larger societal economic issues have created somewhat of a perfect storm.

“When we lose a significant portion of our inventory and there’s a lag time before we can regain it, on top of inflation and housing prices increasing and wages not increasing at the same rate, it certainly is distressing. We know that there’s a need in our community and we’re not currently able to meet the demand,” he said.

The Lashkowitz High Rise is slated for demolition at the end of September or early October. The new 110-units of public housing that are slated to be constructed on the site are not likely to be available for move-in until the spring of 2025.

Brungardt said if the waitlists issues continue it’s likely Fargo Housing would consider requesting additional voucher allocation from HUD.

Source: KFGO

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