30,000 line up for housing vouchers, some get rowdy
Thirty thousand people showed up to receive Section 8 housing applications in East Point [Atlanta] Wednesday, suffering through hours in the hot sun, angry flare-ups in the crowd and lots of frustration and confusion for a chance to receive a government-subsidized apartment.
The massive event sometimes descended into a chaotic mob scene filled with anger and impatience. Some 62 people needed medical attention and 20 of them were transported to a hospital, authorities said. A baby went into a seizure in the heat and was stabilized at a hospital. People were removed on stretchers and when a throng of people who had been waiting hours in a line were told to move to another line, people started pushing, shoving and cursing, witnesses said.
Concern is rising that a similar scene could occur Thursday when the housing authority of this small city begins accepting the completed applications. Wednesday’s event was only to hand out the paperwork. Some of the crowd waited for two days at the Tri-Cities Plaza shopping center. As the temperature rose Wednesday, people fell ill.
East Point police, some wearing riot helmets, were patrolling the area. Firefighters and EMTs were attending to people who were overheating in the sun. Police from College Park, Hapeville, Fulton County and MARTA assisted in crowd control. Only families with incomes no more than half the median income for the area qualify. The median income for the East Point area is less than $32,000, according to Census data.