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HUD List Grows

By: Lindsay Liepman
By: Lindsay Liepman

Bryan-College Station has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, but over 2200 families are on a waiting list for government housing assistance.

And that number continues to grow.

Five years ago Pamela Morris moved to Bryan with four children, and the hope of a better future.

"At that time I was going to school full time. I had just moved from Dallas. I was going through a separation. I had to start all over again," said Morris.

With no income but many responsibilities, she turned to the federal government for help, but not a hand out.

"You can't just get on the program and expect it to work for you. If you have any goals whether it's long term or short term, it gives you about five years to accomplish those goals," said Morris.

It's a new way of government assistance.

And the number of those who are seeking it -- keeps growing.

"Statistically Brazos County has a larger percentage of poverty than the state average yet we also have the lowest unemployment rate in the state," said Tom Wilkerson of the Brazos Valley Council of Governments.

Which means people are working but their paychecks don't cover the cost of living.

Each month $800,000 is paid to local property owners in rent for 11 hundred families.

With that many people on government-assisted living -- there is virtually no neighborhood untouched.

"You will drive down many streets in B/CS and you can't tell if that person is on Section 8 assistance or not. In fact, the house you may think somebody that lives there is on Section 8, I can almost guarantee is not," said Wilkerson.

Government housing assistance has changed dramatically over the years. Stricter rules and a philosophy of helping the whole person is helping people - help themselves.

"HUD has a long and not very attractive history. The voucher program sprang out of those frustrations to allow folks to chose where they live. This program provides a very desperate need in our community," said Wilkerson.

But not everyone qualifies.

A person can not have any drug or criminal convictions and the property has to be well-maintained by the land lords.

It's a way to keep neighborhoods clean and keep tenants on track.

"I have accomplished those goals and I feel good because I wanted to get off the system," said Morris.

Something she's says she wouldn't be ready for if she didn't get help first.

Budget cuts are expected for the HUD program, and locally that means 60 to 70 families would not receive assistance.


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