Standing in Line for Affordable Housing

There are three basic needs all of us have: food, clothing and shelter.

In Bay County, there seems to be a growing shortage of affordable housing. It's this shortage which caused more than 100 people to brave cold temps Tuesday morning for a chance for help with the rent.

Look around and you'll see that there aren't as many affordable homes in northwest Florida as there were five years ago. That's why more than 150 people lined up outside the Panama City Housing Authority before dawn Tuesday morning to sign up for a chance at subsidized housing.

One of those was Michael Biggs who is hoping for some help.

"Section 8 helps big time. It supplements your income if you're disabled or if you're low income it really helps you get nicer places," he says.

Regina Young also stood in the sub-freezing temperatures for a chance to apply.

She says, "Because I have three small children and I'm going through a divorce and custody battle, so I'm striving to get myself situated for them."

Section 8 housing is where the government helps you pay rent based on your income.

A lack of inexpensive homes has community-wide effects. It's such a problem military supporters are worried the lack of affordable housing could increase Tyndall Air Force Base and the Navy Base's chances of being shuttered in the next round of base closures.

It's not a problem that's easily solved but will have to be addressed, soon.

For people like Nilda Santiago, if standing out in the cold is what it takes to get into a nicer home, that's what she's going to do.

"That's ok. It's a sacrifice that we have to do, if we want to live in a better place and this opportunity forever. That's why I've been here."

If you'd like to learn more about Section 8 housing, call the Panama City Housing Authority at 769-2358. There are a limited number of slots available for the Section 8 program.