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

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

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.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

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 want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend