Thousands in LA County are waiting more than a decade for chance at Section 8 housing

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About 40,000 Los Angeles County residents are on the waiting list to obtain Section 8 vouchers which means many people wait 11 years for a chance at an affordable housing option, officials said during a public hearing Tuesday.

The statement was made by Emilio Salas, deputy executive director for the county’s housing authority, who presented an update to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on the five-year strategic plan. In addition, the board was asked, and then approved $4.8 million in funds from HUD for Capital Fund Program management improvements. The money goes toward administrative costs and housing rehabilitation for the public housing program, according to report by the housing authority.

Of the 40,000 people on the waiting list, about 1,000 people obtained vouchers last year, Salas said. The housing authority is no longer accepting names for the waiting list.

In Los Angeles County, about 47,000 people sleep in their cars, or in tents on the streets on any given night, according to recent figures by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

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“These numbers are really equal to the (number of) homeless people living on our streets right now,” noted Supervisor Kathryn Barger after she questioned Salas about how long it takes for people to obtain those vouchers.

The Section 8 program allows people with vouchers to find their own housing to rent in the open market. They pay a portion of their own income toward rent and the county’s housing authority subsidizes the rest.

In 2015, the board approved a broad initiative to help house homeless people. But efforts are often met with a complex knot of issues in the Los Angeles County housing market, including an apartment vacancy rate of less than 3 percent, the rising cost of rent and a reluctance among landlords to rent to people who hold vouchers.

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The Housing Authority’s plan is to use the funds to rehabilitate 1,131 housing units at eight Public Housing program developments, according to the report.

Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis requested that Salas return with a report in the next few weeks to address how the housing authority works with those who have been convicted of crimes, if those residents are on the waiting lists, and what more can be done to alleviate the glut of people who need vouchers.


“It breaks my heart to think about 40,00 people are waiting 11 years on a waiting list,” Supervisor Janice Hahn added.

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