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Renters have challenges finding Section 8 housing in San Diego

Posted at 3:59 PM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 21:30:04-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As San Diego rents increase, finding housing becomes a tougher challenge for residents who rely on Section 8.

The housing choice voucher program is the federal government’s program for helping very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled. To qualify, participants must meet criteria regarding family income, assets, and composition. Public housing agencies screen applicants by checking with employers and banks. Anyone who is eligible is put on a waiting list.

Although Section 8 recipients are entitled to rent any unit they want, the homeowner must agree to make the unit available for the program. In San Diego, some owners are refusing to take part. That makes the housing search more difficult for people like Trina.

Six months ago, a significant rent increase forced her out of her Linda Vista apartment.  She went apartment hunting with her Section 8 voucher.

“I didn’t think it would take long to get housing.  Six months later, I remain homeless.  Sometimes I feel less than human,” said Trina.

The disabled San Diegan is a full-time student at Mesa College with a dream of earning a psychology degree. She’s in the market for an apartment between $1,000 and $1,500 but says few landlords are willing to accept her voucher.

“Many just think those with Section 8 housing vouchers are lowlifes and we aren’t,” said Trina.

She says most tell her they won’t accept the voucher, and the complexes that do take the voucher usually come with long waitlists.  She doesn’t qualify for housing set aside for families or seniors.  When she has found a fit, the rent is often too high.  The voucher won’t cover it.

On Wednesday, San Diego City Council member Georgette Gomez introduced an ordinance that would ban landlords from denying a renter based solely on their use of the voucher.

Meanwhile, Trina’s voucher expires in late August.

“Just keep looking until I find something.  I have no other choice,” said Trina.

A spokesperson with the San Diego Housing Commission issued this statement:” … approximately 80% of SDHC’s rental housing voucher families are able to find a place to live within 90 days … However, we are beginning to see the marketing tightening, and customers are needing more time to locate a residence …"

See a list of Section 8 housing HERE.