"We don't have neither the funds nor the space for everybody that wants to be in the program," said Macedo. "Some people are just not going to be assisted."

The Ascension Parish Council spent much of the Thursday night meeting discussing Section 8 housing. A contract renewal came before the council, which sparked the discussion of housing assistance in the parish.

Administrator of the Section 8 rental assistance program, Roberto Macedo, made his case before the council, and members had plenty of questions about who receives housing vouchers. He said Section 8 is a federal program that provides rental assistance to families who qualify based on income. He said they service about 109 families in Ascension Parish, most of them on the West Bank.

Councilman Randy Clouatre had questions about why more than 60 percent of voucher recipients are between the ages of 25 and 49, which he called prime working age. Since only 38 percent of families in the program are headed by a disabled person, he wondered why some people are in the program for such a long time.

Other issues that came up include how people get into the program and how long they spend on the waiting list. Macedo said in order to apply for housing vouchers, people have to call a 1-800 number on a specific date. Since only one call is taken at a time, applicants can spend a long time on hold waiting to be helped.

With a limited number of vouchers available in the parish, people can spend years on the waiting list without receiving any assistance. Macedo said this complicates things further because by the time they get down the list, a family's circumstances may have changed.

He added that once someone is accepted into the program, they can receive assistance for quite some time as long as they continue to meet the requirements. This means that no new applicants can join the program until someone leaves.

"That's been always a little frustrating because you would like to circulate the assistance, and in some cases we have families that have been in the program for several years, but there's nothing we can do about it," said Macedo.

The council discussed other methods for applicants to get into the program, including an in-person registration day where needy people could meet with program representatives face to face. Councilman Oliver Joseph said the process has been frustrating for his constituents who have tried to get on the list. Macedo said unfortunately, there's not much he can do.

"We don't have neither the funds nor the space for everybody that wants to be in the program," said Macedo. "Some people are just not going to be assisted."

Joseph asked about requesting additional federal funding for the program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Macedo responded that it has been difficult to get more money, as funding for the program has repeatedly been slashed, but he said he would try again.

The contract funded through federal dollars was renewed. Joseph also made a motion to instruct Macedo to request additional 100 vouchers for section 8 program in Ascension Parish. The motion was adopted without objection.

Follow Halen on Twitter: @LikeVanHalen