WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- Hundreds lined up in Luzerne County on Thursday to get Section 8 government housing assistance. So many turned out because it was the only day the housing authority lets people apply.
Many waiting in line to apply for government housing assistance say they've run out of options and feel like the system in place to help them isn't doing its job.
"I'm this close to homeless and my mom has cancer and I just wanted to just try and get some help, but I can't do this. I have to go home and take care of my mom and I can't stand here for an hour and then be rejected," Kathryn Carfton said.
Words of despair are what many in line had for Newswatch 16 as they waited in the rain outside the Luzerne County Housing Authority office to apply for a spot on the Section 8 waiting list.
Section 8 is a federal government program that offers financial aid for housing. The people were standing in line Thursday to get a number on a waiting list.
"As their number comes up, they get called up for what we call a screening. If they're determined to be eligible, then they're briefed on a program and given a voucher to go out and get a rental unit that we can help them afford," explained Luzerne County Section 8 Director James Meyer.
Many people in line are frustrated because this is the only day they can apply. If they don't get on this list, they have to wait an entire year before trying again.
"This only happens one day a year and this line, if you're still out here at 3 o'clock, you can't get in, so this doesn't make any sense. Why can't we do this online? It's kind of a crazy situation, seems like they don't want people to sign up," Gerald McFadden said.
The Housing Authority tells Newswatch 16 it only holds this application day one day a year because it wouldn't be able to handle the volume of applicants otherwise.
"If we did this for three days, we'd have 2,200. Maybe they would never get called. It would take forever and some of these families, by the time we call them, they're no longer in the area, it's just not an instant process," Meyer said.
But that answer wasn't what many waiting in the rain wanted to hear
"I really don't understand the psychology behind this or the management skills of whoever is running it. That's like if your taxes were one day a year how would that work out? "McFadden asked.
The Housing Authority tells us more than 700 families applied and got a spot on the waiting list. Now, each one will need to be screened and interviewed for eligibility. It could be a year before the folks in line get the help they're looking for.