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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, February 6, 2015

Online process proves successful for Housing Voucher Program




Jeremy Blaylock, IT director at the Chattanooga Housing Authority (CHA), hits the “Enter” key to begin the lottery selection process for CHA’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. The random drawing took less than a minute. - (Photo by David Laprad)

The Chattanooga Housing Authority introduced a new online application process when it opened its Housing Choice Voucher Program waiting list on Jan. 26. The process took only a few minutes and was completed by 6,533 applicants.

Using an online application allowed applicants to apply on their computers, tablets, and cell phones. In the past, thousands of applicants were forced to wait in line to fill out a hard copy application at the Chattanooga Housing Authority (CHA) central office. Numbers collected by CHA staff members show a majority of applicants (62 percent) used a mobile device to complete the application. A total of 29 percent used computers to apply. Tablets were used to submit nine percent of applications. A vast majority of applicants were able to complete the process on their own, with no assistance. About 500 applicants chose to take advantage of the computer lab at CHA Central Office, where CHA staff members were available to walk them through the process. Local libraries also provided free computer access to those who needed it.

This was an extremely efficient way for our clients to apply,” said Executive Director Betsy McCright. “The process was quick, easy to navigate, and it didn’t require thousands of applicants to wait in line to put pen to paper. Most importantly, this will help expedite the selection process so we can get vouchers to those selected quickly. Before, we spent months processing the data.”

The CHA used third-party computer software to randomly select 1,000 applicants from the pool to create a waiting list. McCright hopes to be able to screen those 1,000 applicants for eligibility within the next 18 months.

The lottery selection process took place Jan. 30 at the CHA central office on Holtzclaw Avenue. The random drawing took less than a minute. The CHA then sorted the names based on random drawing. On Feb. 2 at noon, the CHA posted the 1,000 waiting list applicants on its website, www.chahousing.org. The CHA will also post hard copies of the waiting list at all CHA public housing management offices. Those who are not selected will need to reapply in the future.

For more information on the Housing Choice Voucher Program and the registration process, visit www.chahousing.org or call (423) 752.4893.

Source: Chattanooga Housing Authority