The last time public housing rosters were opened up, the city got 2,400 apps. This time, they thought maybe 10,000 would show up. Instead, an estimated 30,000 people descended on an Atlanta parking lot last week so they could pick up an application for public housing. 60 had to be taken to the hospital after fights or just from heat exhaustion. It was 90-100 degrees. And this is just to get on a waiting list. To get an actual voucher can take 8-10 more years.
Judging by the video, city officials elected to distribute the applications by standing on top of a car and handing them out one by one to the hundreds of grabbing hands that surrounded them.
Logistics fail. Why not set up a series of distribution points around the city?
MORE: Crowds Chase Scarce Housing Vouchers [WSJ]
This looks like something from the developing world. 30,000 people trying to get on a waiting list for 445 vouchers. Some camped out for 3 days in sweltering heat – I would expect most of the people hospitalized were from heat exhaustion. I’m amazed no one died. 30,000 standing in the Georgia heat is a prescription for some real health problems.
But the incredible thing is that the city that was doing this – East Point, Georgia – only has a population of 43,000. People were driving down from all over to get a chance, even if they might have to wait 8 years to get in.
Obviously, handing out the applications by hand was a logistical nightmare. CHicago had something similar earlier this summer but did it online. 215,000 people applied. 40,000 of those will be chosen to go into a lottery for the few spots available.