Maxine Waters Met with Mixed Reception Over Section 8 Voucher Comments

What Happened?

Congressional representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) has long advocated for affordable housing. In the increasingly unaffordable Los Angeles metro area, many homeless residents have also long pushed for change.

Part of the problem in this area in particular is a lack of housing subsidies. This, of course, is complemented by a lack of developer interest in developing affordable, metropolitan housing. Los Angeles' homeless problem is no secret to residents.

Many non-homeless residents regularly must interact with the homeless population. As rent rates and crime rates both skyrocket, city management has been slow to adapt.

On March 29, 2022, many homeless residents gathered to receive what they believed would be adequate, emergency housing. However, their hopes were tarnished by a rude awakening that these expectations might have been based on a false social media post.

The Social Media Post That Sparked It All

An unofficial account on a social media service posted that free housing vouchers would be handed out at an event. The idea of the event was to promote housing alternatives for those who are impoverished. At rate-breaking prices, the rental housing here is few and far between. Unfortunately, this type of price discrimination targets those who most need housing and protection.

The post in question said that those who showed up to these events designed to promote housing in the poor and vulnerable communities who require Section 8 vouchers would in fact receive one-time permanent housing vouchers.

When people showed up in droves after rumors spiraled in the homeless community to claim these vouchers, there was a huge disconnect between organizers of the events and the expectations that many people who are members of Los Angeles' homeless community of tens of thousands had developed.

The Event That Was Swamped

Unfortunately, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority workers who showed up to help anticipated a small fraction of the crowd would be at the event. The several workers who came to the event had planned on presenting to members of the homeless community what alternatives they may have for various services.

While it was centered on their immediate lack of housing and Section 8 vouchers, these workers came equipped with reading materials to be handed out. They also planned on giving a series of presentations to the homeless.

Little did these workers know that there would be huge throngs of homeless members of the South Los Angeles community. Even though these workers did their best to clear up rumors and address falsehoods that had been spread, people who were homeless continued showing up to the next two events who had apparently been told that they would receive permanent Section 8 vouchers simply for showing up to said events.

Did They Receive Section 8 Vouchers?

Those who have applied for Section 8 vouchers in the past know how hairy and dicey the situation can get. It often takes months and even years to be able to join a Section 8 housing waitlist. In very competitive and pricey housing markets, this wait time often extends, sometimes even to decades.

Unfortunately, as the members of the homeless community showed up, they often engaged in heated debates with speakers and presenters. They were under the impression that they would receive Section 8 vouchers right then and there, on the spot. If real, which it was not, this would be a once in a lifetime chance. The false rumors regarding this likely stemmed from news stories covering a similar item in New York City, which discussed and is implementing a "once in a lifetime" voucher program.

Homeless citizens at one point were met with Maxine Waters, who is a long time advocate for housing stability. Waters' presentation was cordial but included an f-bomb as she railed against anti-housing movements and the Section 8 program, which is notorious for not working and being far too slow.

Though intended to be a housing support program, Section 8 has devolved over time and is often seen as off the table and not attainable.

In short, these citizens who showed up for vouchers were told by none other than Maxine Waters herself that they would not be receiving housing vouchers that day. She told them they should disperse once the event was over and was clear and blunt in sending the message that the rumors they showed up for were false, but she was fighting for them.

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