PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the state battles the homelessness crisis, one solution touted is boosting affordable housing.

However, some going through the process say it’s not an end-all solution and many are still struggling once they’re in those units. A chance at being able to pay the rent is something Heather Thomas and others on fixed or low incomes are relying on in communities like Washington County.

“I really had to watch and work hard for the opportunities to get on that lottery,” Thomas said. “Some people give up and decide to stay in their housing, whether it’s horrible housing, almost not livable, dangerous. They just give up. But I wasn’t going to give up and I wanted to get that lottery and I won.”

Thomas was one of the select applicants to win the lottery for the Housing Choice Vouchers — but then comes the waiting game.

Washington County’s Department of Housing Services tells KOIN 6 that because of the extremely high demand and limited funding from HUD, it can take years even after winning the voucher lottery. The average wait in Oregon is more than 26 months.

“When I do get a voucher, hopefully, they’re going to want to make sure I’m using that voucher toward an affordable apartment,” Thomas told KOIN 6.

In the meantime, Thomas moved into The Viewfinder, one of the area’s newer affordable housing projects in Tigard. But she says since moving in and waiting for her voucher, her rent has gone up.

“After that 14% increase, I was then paying 63% of my income,” Thomas said.

It’s a situation others may relate to as the state grapples with the housing crisis. Thomas says she worries about the future and the potential for becoming homeless if her rent continues to go up — even while in a building designed as affordable housing, while also waiting on the voucher rental assistance to go through.

“There are just so many things that have happened in low-income housing that you really become trapped here,” Thomas said.

Washington County’s Dept. of Housing Services tells KOIN 6 they’re also inquiring with the property owner about the rent increase and reported safety violations.