The Biden Administration is allocating $16.3 million to provide an additional 1,027 Section 8 rental vouchers to low-income tenants in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Friday, Sept. 23.
While desperately needed, the new “Housing Choice” vouchers represent less than 1% of all Section 8 recipients in the four-county area and provides extra assistance to just 20 of the region’s 25 public housing authorities.
The new vouchers are part of a nationwide allocation of more than 19,000 new vouchers, a HUD statement said. They come on top of 69,000 emergency housing vouchers the Biden administration approved for people facing homelessness or domestic violence. Funding for those 88,000 additional vouchers came from the American Rescue Plan and this year’s federal budget.
HUD Secretary said the new vouchers are part of “a historic expansion” of the nation’s 48-year-old program, which fills the gap between what low-income households can afford to pay and what landlords charge for fair market rent.
HUD said the administration is seeking $1.6 billion in next year’s budget to boost the number of vouchers by 200,000, or 8%.
“The Administration recognizes the importance of housing vouchers to securing affordable housing, and is fighting for an additional increase to the program,” the HUD fact sheet released Friday said. “Making market-rate housing that is affordable for lower-income families is an essential element of addressing the housing affordability crisis. … Today’s announcement will help more people across the country access affordable housing, particularly people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.”
This year’s federal budget authorized HUD to spend more than $24 billion on 2.6 million vouchers.
In California, about 350,000 tenant households receive Section 8 vouchers, and Southern California’s four-county region has funding for 144,000 vouchers.
But waits of four to eight years are typical for tenants lucky enough to get on a housing agency’s waiting list, which tend to stay closed to new applicants for years at a time.
“HUD believes that every eligible household should have access to a voucher,” the agency’s statement said.
Even getting a voucher is no guarantee recipients can find a rental since they have to compete with higher-income tenants in the tightest housing market in at least two decades. Discrimination against Section 8 tenants persist despite a state law prohibiting landlords from blanket rejections of all Section 8 renters.
Southern California is getting the lion’s share of new vouchers unveiled Friday.
The L.A.-Orange-Inland Empire region accounts for just over half of the 1,991 new vouchers and $32 million being allocated to 80 housing agencies in California.
The new allocation will add 450 vouchers to the 51,119 the Los Angeles City Housing Authority already administers, HUD figures show. An allocation of $7.2 million has been authorized for those new slots.
The Orange County Housing Authority, which already received 11,135 vouchers this year, will get an additional $1.9 million for 102 new slots.
The allocation will add 99 voucher’s to San Bernardino County’s current allotment of 11,159, and 84 to Riverside County’s allotment of 9,885.
No new vouchers are being provided to housing agencies run by the County of Los Angeles and the cities of Compton, Torrance, Hawthorne and Hawaiian Gardens, which have a combined allotment of 30,139 vouchers.