Check Out the State of Affairs of Section 8 Housing Across the Country

For those who don't know how Section 8 Housing got started, its roots are in the United States Housing Act of 1937. "Section 8" was the portion of the Act that refers to doling out safe housing to people who are low-income and cannot afford housing of their own. Unlike public housing, which is comprised of fixed towers of small apartments dedicated to those who cannot afford housing of their own, Section 8 allows people to choose among housing offered on the market.

The title "Section 8" is somewhat antiquated, with it currently being called "Housing Choice Vouchers" across the country. The demand for Section 8 housing has grown exponentially since this Act was passed. Let's check out the current state of affairs of Housing Choice Vouchers during this unprecedented pandemic era.

Brush Up on Your Section 8 Statistics

Here are some interesting statistics on Section 8 housing!

If you earn 30% or less of the median income for your area, you will be given preferential treatment when it comes to the issuance of a Housing Choice Voucher. While approximately 4,800,000 households receive some form of federal housing help, only 2,100,000 receive housing vouchers each year. On average, those families who are receiving Section 8 assistance continue getting it for approximately six years.

Of course, Section 8 housing is commonly associated with poverty. That's because it was created with the most vulnerable in mind. More than 80% of those using Section 8 to help with their rent bill make under $20,000 in total per calendar year.

Many people receiving Housing Choice Vouchers are familiar with the brutal waiting list they must face in order to receive the vouchers. There are, at any given time, hundreds of thousands of applicants across the country waiting to receive their housing benefits. Some of these people end up homeless because of this extensive waiting period. This is one of many common complaints that we'll take a look at in the upcoming section.

Common Complaints Associated with Housing Choice Vouchers

While Section 8 housing is intended to offer the needy a place to stay that's a safer alternative to public housing, there are many criticisms of the process. Here are some of the current, common complaints associated with this form of housing.

As we alluded to, the wait list is one of the most complained about items associated with Section 8 housing. Essentially, those applying are required to fully complete all the lengthy forms involved. The vast majority of people applying then get placed on a wait list. From this list, people are chosen based on a variety of factors. However, it often takes months or even years to get Section 8 housing benefits.

So, what do those people who apply and then must wait do in the meantime? Often, they end up either homeless or in dire straights during the process. Another associated complaint is how federalized the process is. In other words, the Housing Choice Voucher process is very distributed. While it is, in the end, funded with federal money, it is implemented by states and localities.

How quickly those applying for housing can get it depends largely on state and local resources and how efficiently they supply housing. Some states and localities are highly efficient at providing housing benefits, while others are not. For example, Los Angeles County is known for its homeless problem. The county's problem in particular is largely due to constantly skyrocketing costs of living, a lack of affordable housing, and the problem definitely didn't get any better during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Los Angeles County at any given point has approximately 100,000 Section 8 vouchers available. This means that, in theory, the county could distribute them all at once or when it decides to do so. In the meantime, it's been the host of many protests by the homeless, who are asking for these vouchers to be distributed. Why the county chooses to hold onto them is up for debate, as they aren't required to give any specific rationale for holding onto them.

Of course, this delay in processing due to those two top current complaints cannot be explained away, as many people become homeless due to bureaucratic issues and remain homeless for months and years at a time.

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