Los Angeles Expects to Turn Away 96 Percent of Subsidized Housing Applicants

Some Los Angeles apartments that probably won't take Section 8 vouchers.Orange County Register via ZUMA

When Los Angeles opens applications to join its waitlist for subsidized housing vouchers in a couple of weeks, the city’s housing authority expects that it will receive more than 600,000 applications. According to the Los Angeles Times, the waitlist’s capacity is just 20,000, which means that 580,000 of those who apply will be told, more or less, ‘Sorry, better luck next time.’

The lucky 20,000 then stand to wait up to a decade for a voucher to become available. Los Angeles has about 57,000 federally funded Section 8 vouchers in use, and only about 2,400 become available each year as recipients typically start earning more money, move, or die. Many of these vouchers will be set aside for the homeless or particular housing projects, further limiting applicants’ opportunities to escape the waitlist.

The last time LA opened up applications to join its Section 8 voucher waitlist was in 2004, when the city received a comparably light 300,000 applications. 

Though New York and San Francisco are usually cited as the nation’s most expensive housing markets, Los Angeles is generally considered the most country’s most unaffordable. Angelenos typically have lower median incomes than New Yorkers or San Franciscans, and end up devoting a a higher percentage of their monthly income to housing.

A HUD report released in August determined that the majority of Los Angeles’ one million “very poor” households spent more than half of their income on rent, and found a greater share of low income people with inadequate housing in Southern California than in nearly any other major US metropolitan area.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate