WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita Housing Choice Voucher program helps thousands of low-income families pay rent. Despite help from the city, hundreds still cannot find a place to live.

Wichitan Priscilla Wakefield spent every day for months trying to find somewhere to accept the voucher.

“I tried everywhere,” Wakefield said. “The reasoning I was told was Section 8 people don’t take care of stuff. They’re drug addicts. It was all kinds of excuses.”

For months Wakefield was homeless, bouncing from friends’ couches to the streets.

“I didn’t think I was ever going to find somewhere, and I’d be back out on that streets. You know, and that’s not anywhere that a female should stay, much less an older female,” she said.

Wakefield is one of 3,000 in Wichita’s Housing Choice Voucher program.

“Right now, we have about 500 families out searching for units,” explained Sally Stand, director of Wichita’s Housing and Community Services Department. “In a tight market, landlords often will take a market rate tenant over an assisted tenant. Just simply because there are inspection requirements and paperwork requirements, and in that tight market, it’s much easier just to go with the market rate tenant.”

Stang says some landlords simply say no right away, “We’ve seen several apartment complexes that have been bought by out-of-state owners who come in and just simply say we don’t want to deal with rent assistance. And so we’re losing inventory due to those types of transactions and decisions.”

The city is working to recruit more landlords to give the program a chance.

“When our low-income families can’t find a place to rent, even with rent assistance, that is a guaranteed income, you know, to the landlord. Oftentimes they fall into homelessness,” Stang said.

Last month, Wakefield finally got a call

“You can move in. I’ll drop the keys off tomorrow, and I’m like, what? Really? Oh my god. And I was so ecstatic,” Wakefield recalled.

She finally got a place to call home.

“I feel like I can accomplish something now. Where before I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t feel worthy,” she said. “I feel like a person now.”

If you are a landlord in Wichita and interested in learning more about the housing choice voucher program, click here.