Oct. 9, 2003 – Sen. Celestino A. White Sr. said on Thursday that he will be meeting with Donna Ayala, named by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as receiver for the V.I. Housing Authority, in the hope of convincing HUD to reopen the territory's waiting lists for low-income housing and Section 8 housing.
On Sept. 8, Ayala announced that VIHA had stopped accepting applications for low-income housing in the St. Thomas-St. John district, stating that the waiting list was too long.
The application process for Section 8 housing was suspended throughout the territory in June, with the suspension to continue until July of 2004. More than 1,500 people are currently on the waiting list for that program, with no available units to place them in, authorities said.
The public housing stock on St. Thomas was reduced when the Donoe and Warren E. Brown housing communities were torn down. "We are not like other jurisdictions," White said in a release. "We can't drive from one town or county to the next in search of housing."
White, who strongly opposes HUD's action, said the application process of both of programs is "a very critical means" of assessing the housing needs of the Virgin Islands. "We understand that there may be no more room in the inn," he said on Thursday, "but we need to know the housing needs of our people."
White said the process of applying should be allowed to continue, despite the unavailability of housing units at present. The statistics generated will give the local government "leverage" in showing the need for more Section 8 vouchers and federal aid, he said.
"We are respectfully asking them to keep the list open so we could verify the need for more funding," he said.
White is an advocate of efforts to construct a new public housing community in the Nullyberg/Estate Hoffman area on St. Thomas. Work has yet to begin on those units.
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