Chris Van Horne, NBCDFW.com
Nearly two weeks after applying for rental assistance in Dallas turned into a stampede, the Fort Worth Housing Authority opened up its application process without drama.
Nearly two weeks after a chaotic scene for housing vouchers in Dallas, Fort Worth's Housing Authority opened up its application process without much drama.
Several people sustained minor injuries while racing to be first in line for the Dallas voucher sign-up July 14.
But in Fort Worth on Monday, there was no stampede or race because there was no line. Most people must apply online.
"It doesn't matter when you apply during the week; your chances are the same," said Selarstean Mitchell, FWHA vice president of assisted housing at FWHA.
Only applicants who are older than 62 or who have a disability can apply in person.
Kenneth Lewis, who is blind, recently moved to Fort Worth from Alabama and applied for the first time. He said the experience of being one of the very few receiving assistance was enjoyable.
"It's very, very helpful. I feel kind of special," Lewis said.
Fort Worth libraries were packed with applicants who had to reserve time and get a library card before using the computers.
Joice Spearman waited for four hours at the East Berry Branch but said it was better than the alternative.
"We don't have to wait in line anymore," Spearman said. "We can do it online or whatever and keep it calm and collected. There doesn't have to be [any] pushing or shoving no more. You come down here to the library and do it online."
The online-only application plan was in the works for months. FWHA officials wanted to make the process more fair for those applying and efficient for the housing agency.
"In the past, when we took applications manually, then we would have staff that would do nothing but data entry," Mitchell said. "Now we don't have to do that."
That should save time and money, as there will be less paper needed.
Mitchell said FWHA is the first in North Texas to go online, use a lottery system and allow applications to be entered on more than one day.
The FWHA distributes 5,100 vouchers throughout the year, but loses about 50 people per month because they no longer need the voucher or meet the requirements.
Mitchell said the authority's current wait list is nearly exhausted.
Fort Worth's vouchers will be distributed in a lottery system.
To apply for the vouchers, click here.