Odessa Housing Authority Shuts Down Waiting List

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The bills are stacking up and with the holidays nipping at our heels, many renters say they can't pay but they can't find help either.

At the Odessa Housing Authority, the list of families who need help with rent isn't growing, but that's only because officials capped it off at about a thousand people. They tell NewsWest 9, more need a hand.

The yellow sign on the front door tells the story.

"What am I going to do? And our answer to them is 'if your name isn't on our waiting list, you'll have to wait until we open it again.'" Burnadine Spears, with the Odessa Housing Authority, said.

But yet families come in every day hoping for a chance. The Odessa Housing Authority helps out with housing costs for nearly 900 Odessans, but this year it hasn't been easy.

"We have a number of people who have been asking for assistance, that need the assistance, but it's the funding level and we've had a shortfall in our funding this year," Spears said. "We just don't have enough to go around for everybody."

So they shut down the waiting list. It's been closed since August, and won't re-open until April - the longest closure they've ever had.

"We hope we can get it open again, but I don't forsee us opening it again before April, simply because of the number of people out there," Spears said.

They say after families see the sign they try to find help at other local organizations. Student Assistant Services in Ector County has been inundated with calls for help and those troubles at home have emerged in the classroom.

"One of the biggest stressors you can have is losing your housing," Scott Randolph with ECISD Student Assistant Services, said. "So a lot of the kids will show up without homework, they'll be tired, they may not have lunch money. There are a lot of issues that go into it."

The Housing Authority says there is a bright spot: rent and housing prices are dropping meaning - if they get adequate funding - they'll be able to help more families next year.

"It's one of those situations where you just don't know from day to day what the market is going to do," Randolph said. "We're waiting to see right now what they're going to do."

The Odessa Housing Authority gets it's funding from Housing and Urban Development or HUD. Right now, they're in waiting mode to find out how much money they'll get for 2010. That will determine how many people they'll be able to put back on the list.