APPLETON - Troubles may be ahead for a voucher program that helps hundreds of families in Outagamie County each year.
The program offers rental assistance to lower income families. But with a waiting list longer than ever before and government funding cuts looming, the program is bracing for what lies ahead.
"Let me get me some food up in here and get it all cooked up."
It's lunchtime in Rudolph Laye's Appleton apartment. A place to call home he's grateful to have. He says that's thanks to assistance from the Appleton Housing Authorities' Housing Choice Voucher Program.
"For low income people that really can't meet the budget, it helps out a lot," said Laye.
Laye is currently out of work due to a medical illness. He had been on a waiting list for assistance for almost two years. He says the day he finally started receiving assistance last November was an answer to his prayers.
"This helps people that can't get out and pay them bills for themselves," he said.
Rudolph is one of roughly 600 people the Appleton Housing Authority will provide rental assistance to this year.
"It's critically important because it makes affordable housing affordable in the private market," said Appleton Housing Authority executive director Debra Dillenberg.
The program is federally funded. Giving about $2.4 million of rental assistance each year. Currently, more than 1,400 individuals and families are on the program's waiting list. That's more than ever before. The list is so large, the housing authority's board of directors voted to stop adding to the list that has now grown to at least a five year wait.
Dillenberg says the housing authority has been at the same level of federal funding since 2002, and she says pending across the board spending cuts coming March 1 at the federal level, could mean fewer dollars coming into the program and fewer families that can be served.
"When somebody goes off the program we won't be able to take somebody from the waiting list and put them on to take their place," she said.
And for those on the waiting list, Laye has some advice.
"It's a long time you know, but you know someday your number is coming up."
To qualify for the voucher program, applicants must live in Outagamie County. They must have an income of some kind and contribute more than 50 percent of that income toward rent.
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