Glitch in lottery for housing subsidy waiting list gives applicants false hope

Mistake at state housing office is another blow to low-income communities

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is trying to explain a glitch that gave applicants for a key housing subsidy program false hope that they’d secured a spot on a waiting list for aid.

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority has acknowledged that it notified applicants of the Section 8 housing program that their name was drawn from the waitlist, and that sent another message that said a glitch in the system would void the initial lottery selection.

The Section 8 housing voucher waitlist opened for the first time in four years last month after HPHA obtained $2 million in federal funds for the program.

The federal program assists allows voucher holders to pay about 30% of their income towards rent, with the voucher covering the rest.

After messages were sent out to the first round of applications who won the lottery, a message followed on Thursday notifying that a glitch in the selection system duplicated some names in lottery.

“While the process of reviewing the list, the HPHA discovered several duplicate applicants on the list, and immediately informed the vendor about the errors on the list provided,” the authority wrote in a statement.

“The vendor then informed the HPHA that a “computer glitch” in their system allowed duplicate applications.”

In fairness to all those who applied, the authority decided to redraw and void the first round of picks.

“And now we all have to suffer and wait and see how they’re going to do this new lottery pick?” Lanita Hawkins, an applicant who thought she would be receiving a voucher, said. “And you now may or may not be in it. Don’t they understand how that impacts people’s lives?”

In the statement HPHA said the glitch has been fixed. It also said that staff will review names on the list before the contractor performs the lottery again.

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