WeHo May Lobby Feds for Increase in Low Income Housing Subsidy

West Hollywood is considering lobbying the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to raise the permitted rent level for apartments whose low-income tenants receive federal rent subsidies.

affordable housing section 8That is one of several steps being proposed by the city’s Department of Human Services and Rent Stabilization in the face of a proposal to reduce the federal subsidy for tenants by 15 percent over two years.

The subsidy is provided under the federal Section 8 program. Low-income tenants registered in the program are required to pay no more than 40 percent of their gross income for rent and certain utilities. Participating landlords may charge no more than what HUD has determined is a “fair market rent.” HUD pays the landlords through the local public housing authority to make up the difference between the rent they charge and the maximum their tenants are required to pay. Currently 801 West Hollywood residents participate in the Section 8 program.

The reduction in the federal subsidy, the first part of which is scheduled to take place with a 7.4 percent cut next month, is likely to force some long term residents to move out of West Hollywood, city officials have said. They also say the reduction will increase demand for various city services offered to low-income people.

HUD’s fair market rent is calculated according to a complicated formula that covers the entire Los Angeles metropolitan area, many parts of which have much lower rents than does West Hollywood. The calculation for 2014 sets the fair market rent for an efficiency (studio) apartment at $896, a one-bedroom at $1,083, a two-bedroom at $1,398, a three-bedroom at $1,890 and a four-bedroom at $2,106. The county Housing Authority is able to deviate from that, setting the standard at from 90 percent to 110 percent of the HUD-calculated amount. Currently it is at 90 percent, which means a landlord participating in the Section 8 program can charge no more than $975 a month for a one-bedroom, including certain utilities.

The Human Services Department proposes that the City Council engage a firm to apply for an exception to HUD’s fair market rent calculations for West Hollywood. If such an exception were granted, the county Housing Authority, which administers West Hollywood’s Section 8 program, would be able to offer a subsidy for more than 110 percent of the fair market rent. However, even if HUD were to grant the exception, it wouldn’t take effect until six months after it’s approved.

The reduction in the HUD subsidies is a result of “sequestration,” the federal budget cuts that took effect last year and have had a serious impact on services offered to low-income people across the country

Under HUD rules, such an exception can be granted if it will help families find housing outside areas with high levels of poverty, if Section 8 participants have trouble finding housing at the fair market rent level and to prevent financial hardship for Section 8 participants.

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8 years ago

There is an error in the article. Section 8 tenants for the County of Los Angeles are required to pay no more than 30% of their income, not 40%. As of July 1, 2014 for West Hollywood Section 8, the first phase amounts (per the Section 8 Tenant Talk newsletter) – Singles – $878, 1 bedrooms – $1060, 2bd – $1344, 3 br -$1811, 4bd – $2103, 5 bd – $2418. I have 2 documents that state these amounts. Oh, and to follow up on what SaveWeHO said, you are most likely to end up in Lancaster or Palmdale. That… Read more »

8 years ago

The problem with all this is the City of West Hollywood has closed all applications for anyone seeking apartments under their low-income housing program. And even if you are able to sign up in the future…there is a 2 year wait. The same is said for Section 8. The City of Los Angeles has closed all applications for their program and for them its a 7-8 year wait. And when you sign on with Section 8 you are not guaranteed a place in West Hollywood. In fact, I believe there are only 3 apartment buildings that take part. If you’re… Read more »

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