LA is set to reopen its Section 8 housing waiting list for the first time in five years. This is what you need to know

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The City of Los Angeles will reopen the waiting list for its Section 8 housing voucher program for the first time in five years.

From October 17, Angelenos will have two weeks to apply online for a chance to win a lottery waiting list. The last time Los Angeles opened its Section 8 waiting list was in 2017 – and nearly 188,000 people applied for just 20,000 available vouchers.

The federal government currently funds more than 2 million Section 8 housing selection vouchers for low-income renters, making it the nation’s largest rental assistance program. Many states, such as California, have section 8 waiting lists because the demand for public housing often exceeds the supply.

“We only have a limited number of vouchers that can be used for a certain period of time before we have to limit a waiting list to a certain number, where it takes four, five, six years to fully spend and use that voucher allocation,” Doug said. Guthrie, chief executive and president of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.

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30,000 vouchers are available, Guthrie said, but the city’s housing authority is expecting more than 365,000 new applicants — giving hopeful candidates a one in ten chance of being selected.

Guthrie said those selected will have 180 days to acquire a unit before their voucher is returned to the raffle to be given to someone else on the waiting list.

In today’s market, tenants have a 70-80% chance of finding suitable Section 8 housing, lower than in previous years, Guthrie said.

“In the past it was almost always 80%, and that’s only going down because of the lack of affordable housing and the lack of options available,” he said.

Tenants selected for vouchers will use them to apply for qualified housing, as long as the rent does not exceed the program limits. Those limits are determined by a number of factors, such as family size and the number of bedrooms authorized by the housing authority.

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Tenants generally spend no more than 40% of their income on rent, with the voucher program covering the remaining costs. Currently, only LA families that meet the “extremely low” and “very low” income standards of housing and urban development, or an income no higher than 30% or 50% of the region’s median income, are eligible for vouchers.

According to the housing authority, the suitability of the program is also determined by the status of the citizen. US citizens, non-citizens with legal immigration status, or mixed households where at least one person has legal immigration status are eligible for the voucher.

The online application has not yet been launched, but will be made available on the Housing Authority’s website, at hacla.org. City officials said more details about the application process, how to properly submit an application, and where applicants can seek help filling out their forms will be available on the site on Oct. 4.

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It is important to note that while a completed application may put families on the waiting list, according to the housing authority, this does not guarantee a voucher. Applicants will be randomly selected through a raffle after the application window closes on October 30.

Guthrie said all city libraries will provide assistance to applicants.

“It’s juggling,” Guthrie said. “We want to make sure that we use all our resources as quickly as possible and do our best. This is a very precious resource and we want to make sure people can make use of it. The odds aren’t great, but the rewards could be huge for someone who really needs help with housing.”

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