Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tough To Get, Nearly Impossible To Use: Skyrocketing Rents, Plummeting Vacancy Rates Make Section 8 Housing Vouchers Worthless For Many In Parts Of SoCal

From a recent story by KPCC-Public Radio 89.3 FM in Southern California:
  • [O]ver at the Housing Authority of the City of L.A. (HACLA), which runs voucher programs for low-income renters, homeless individuals and homeless veterans, success rates [for placing apartment seekers into permanent housing] have also dropped.

    Currently, 40 percent of those who receive Section 8 rental assistance vouchers through HACLA end up giving them up because they can't find a place to rent. That's according to most recent figures, which span the first half of 2016.

    In 2014, that number was 27 percent and in 2015, 36 percent.

    "All of this is because of the vacancy rate in the city, which is at an all-time low of 2.7 percent, and that factors into the high cost of housing," said Carlos Van Natter, director of HACLA's Section 8 program.

    Van Natter said it's tough to be competitive as a renter in such a tight market, especially since Section 8 rent is capped at a maximum of $1,314 for a one-bedroom. For the HUD-VASH program, which exclusively serves veterans, the rent cap is $1,500.

    HACLA is turning more and more attention towards committing Section 8 vouchers to developments that are aimed specifically at housing the homeless, he said.

    "If there's a change in the market, we're right there still with tenant-based assistance, but we are pushing forward and doing a lot in terms of project-based vouchers," Van Natter said.

    HACLA has also received money from the City of L.A. to do landlord outreach and recruiting. The city can provide landlords security deposits for formerly homeless tenants, as well as money set aside for if a tenant causes damage to a unit.

    The County of L.A.'s housing authority is even offering cash incentives to landlords who sign up for the program.

    The two agencies, along with L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl's office, are hosting a landlord information session in Hollywood February 15.

    "We're losing the ability to house middle class and especially working class people," Kuehl said. Affordability issues, she said, are among L.A.'s greatest challenges going forward.

    "Government doesn't create these issues, but we are trying to help work through them," she said.

    Los Angeles isn't the only city struggling with affordability—it's become a regional issue.

    In Santa Ana, for instance, the housing authority is seeing 66 percent of its rental vouchers returned for lack of a place to use them.

    "We're struggling with the same issues," said Judson Brown, housing division manager for the city.

    Brown said the city is taking steps to help, including funding a housing navigator position to help people find rentals, but there's no help from the federal government when it comes to landlord outreach and other incentive programs.

    Brown said the city is trying to figure out a way to fund some of the programs L.A. has, including security deposit help. In the meantime, he said, the agency's doing what it can with limited resources.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home