Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Section 8: The Waiting Game
By: Chris Caminata
There are various different government operated programs to help the less fortunate members of our country. One of these programs is the Section 8 Program. The Section 8 Program was authorized by Congress in 1974 and developed by HUD to provide rental subsidies for eligible tenant families (including single persons) residing in newly constructed, rehabilitated and existing rental and cooperative apartment projects. (Multifamily Housing) This program has been making housing easier for many families who have low to very low income. It has helped keep many people off of the streets and it can also be beneficial to the landlords.
Section 8, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, has requirements that must be met before a tenant can begin renting from the landlord. After a family with a section 8 voucher decides to rent an apartment, the landlord is still required to screen the prospective employee to make sure they are suitable for the desired apartment. The Section 8 Program does not offer any kind of screening of the family. After the screening process, the landlord must contact the Section 8 office so they can determine if renting to the proposed family is acceptable. They will check several factors such as whether or not the family can afford the rent and if the price of the rent is reasonable compared to the rest of the community. After they find the family can live there they will send someone out for an inspection to find if the house meets the requirements of the Section 8 Program. After the program approves the family and the proposed housing unit, the landlord must gain some knowledge of the program. Landlords who want to rent to Section 8 families must attend a one-time seminar to become better acquainted with the program.
Here in Fresno, there are over 12,000 families participating in the Section 8 Program. This may seem like a large number but in actuality it’s not. At the beginning of 2011 for the first time in well over a year, some families on the Fresno waitlist received Section 8 vouchers. About 500 families received the voucher, all whom had been on the waiting list since 2008. These are small numbers compared to the 22,000 plus people on the Fresno Section 8 waiting list.
More recently just north of us in Madera the wait list was opened. The morning of Tuesday April 10, 2012 the Madera Housing Authority opened its Section 8 wait list for the first time in nearly three years. Over a thousand people from Madera County lined up in hopes of being put onto the wait list, but that isn’t immediate help. After an individual gets on the wait list it could range anywhere from a year till three years before they receive the section 8 voucher. The wait list will only be open for four days for applicants to get their name on it. The Madera Housing Authority speculates that after the application period closes it won’t be open again for another three years due to the economy.
It is a very long process for individuals to get help from the Section 8 program. After up to 3 years on the wait list, and finding vacancies in Section 8 housing it could take a very long time for an individual to get the benefits they need to stay off the streets. Many people apply for the program when they need to benefits but by then it is usually too late. If an individual suspects they may need help from the Section 8 Program in the future it may be wise to get on the waiting list whenever it opens up.
"Housing Authorities - City & County of Fresno." Housing Authorities. Web. 6 Apr. 2012. <http://www2.hafresno.org/>.
JLP. "Section 8 Housing â Good for Landlords? | AllFinancialMatters." Section 8 Housing â Good for Landlords? 12 Mar. 2008. Web. 5 Apr. 2012. <http://allfinancialmatters.com/2008/03/12/section-8-housing-good-for-landlords/>.
"Landlord's Guide to Section 8." Section 8: Housing Choice Vouchers. Web. 6 Apr. 2012. <http://www.massresources.org/section8-landlords-guide.html>.
Lee, Bonhia. "Fresno Again Issues Section 8 Housing Vouchers." IRP Poverty Dispatch. 28 Aug. 2010. Web. 6 Apr. 2012. <http://www.irp.wisc.edu/dispatch/2010/09/01/section-8-housing-fresno-ca/>.
"Multifamily Housing - Section 8 Background Information - HUD." HUD.gov. Web. 5 Apr. 2012. <http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/mfh/rfp/s8bkinfo>.
Saucedo, Carlos. "More than a Thousand Apply for Madera Section 8 Housing." ABC 30 HD. 10 Apr. 2012. Web. 11 Apr. 2010. <http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/local&id=8614548>.