Local officials in Los Angeles are preparing for an enormous amount of applications for federal housing aid, or Section 8 housing, when they open up the waiting list later this year. Los Angeles has not taken applications for Section 8 housing since 2004 because almost 300,000 people applied that year. The application period will be open for only two-weeks and officials believe that double the amount of people that applied in 2004 will apply this year. Unfortunately, only a small amount of applicants will actually get a rental assistance voucher or make it on the wait list. Carlos VanNatter, director of the Section 8 program at the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, states:
It’s like a perfect storm. We have a ton of people who are eligible income-wise and need the assistance, but we don’t have that much assistance to give.
Los Angeles only has about 50,000 vouchers to hand out and only 2,400 will be available for newly eligible applicants, with about half of those being set aside to house homeless people in permanent supportive housing developments. In the end, about 400 vouchers will actually be awarded to applicants on the wait list. VanNatter believes that federal cuts could lead to a loss of around 5,000 vouchers, which will further make it hard for families in need to get help with housing. Even if a family or a person is lucky enough to get a voucher, it does not guarantee that housing will actually be available. Los Angeles has a 2.6 percent vacancy rate and only 60 percent of landlords are actually willing to accept people with vouchers.