Event cancelled after hundreds line up for Section 8 housing applications

WAVY/Erin Kelly

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Hundreds of people lined up Thursday morning for affordable housing applications in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Housing and Redevelopment Authority abruptly canceled the event. Deputy Executive Director Kathy Warren told WAVY.com they did that out of concern for citizens safety.

Det. Misty Holley with Portsmouth Police tells WAVY.com several fights broke out at the event, but no arrests were made. An EMS unit was dispatched for some people who were having heat-related issues.

The Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority announced on May 10 it would be allowing people to pick-up applications for the government’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, which helps low-income families find affordable housing options.

According to the housing authority, applications were going to be handed out at the Salvation Army Center on Airline Boulevard between 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. or when 750 applications were distributed.

Photos: Hundreds line up for Section 8 housing in Portsmouth

Anthony Rumble says he was first in line Wednesday afternoon, and spoke with 10 On Your Side’s Rico Bush on Thursday.

“I had a tough road but God keep me pushing. Keep me positive. I just hope the best for the first 750 that get out here and try to make a change,” he said.

Once the 750 applicants fill out the paperwork, they must mail it to the housing authority by June 10. A sign on the Salvation Army read “No More Section 8 Apps” late Thursday morning.

Nearby residents reported traffic problems to 10 On Your Side due to the long line. One viewer sent in a photo, which shows officers directing traffic on Airline Boulevard.

Image Courtesy: WAVY Viewer Cheryl Gorrell
Image Courtesy: WAVY Viewer Cheryl Gorrell

According to Holley, close to 40 officers responded to the area Thursday morning. She said there was initially just one officer there, but more had to be called in because of the size of the crowd.

Holley says she received estimates that more than 1,000 people showed up to Wednesday’s event.

Warren says they will begin accepting applications online in the near future. She said the process will be announced in the coming weeks.They will alert people on their website and with newspaper ads.

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