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C. Oregon rental help can lead to better times

By Femi Abebefe
Published On: Jan 13 2014 09:03:12 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 02:59:55 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Femi Abebefe reports on how the rental assistance of Housing Works helped one man become a homeowner.

REDMOND, Ore. -

For the first time in 17 months, Housing Works in Redmond were able to issue vouchers to Central Oregonians who need rental assistance. Monday they opened up their waitlist for those still in need.

Until Friday at 11:59 p.m., anyone who qualifies for the Housing Choice Voucher Program can apply to be on the waiting list.

Last week, they were able to issue out 65 vouchers to low-income families, something they said is their obligation to the community. 

Last time Housing Works opened up their waitlist for applications, they received 1,600 of them.

With only 65 people getting vouchers, the odds aren't in your favor to be randomly selected by the computer, but one lucky Redmond man got the assistance he needed to get back on his feet.

“It surprised me that I got chosen,” Rafael Escobar said Monday. “I told the wife, 'I don't think we will be chosen, but we could try.' Then I tried, and what do you know?  I got picked, and I was so excited.”

That was the first step. Escobar is a graduate from the Housing Works program and now owns a home.

With the help of Housing Works, the 650 people who applied on Monday hope their story takes a positive turn like Escobar's.

“You know, we're here to provide some assistance for folks while they need, it so they can get back to work,” said Kenny LaPoint, housing and resident director at Housing Works. “Just some stability, really.”

The Housing Works voucher makes sure the recipient doesn't have to pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Another program they offer allows families to set aside a fixed amount of money each month that will eventually go toward purchasing a new home.

“It feels like I can support my family better,” Escobar said. “I can actually do more stuff for them. I can actually put a roof over my family's head.”

Escobar is thankful for his Housing Works opportunity, and even though the odds of being picked were slim, the chance is worth fighting the odds. 

“You know, some people might think it’s not possible, or they can't do it,” Escobar said. “That's how we were at first, but you've got to put your mind to it. You can do it.”

In order to apply, you have to be a Central Oregon resident, but the voucher works anywhere in the country. You can apply in person at their office or online at http://www.housing-works.org/.

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