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LA Trying to Convince Landlords Not to Discriminate Against Section 8

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It's legal to discriminate against Section 8 in California, so LA has to court landlords to take it

The low vacancy rate in Los Angeles—just 2.7 percent—means that most people are probably having a hard time finding a place at all, let alone one they can afford. As one might expect, apartment hunting is especially difficult for someone who's holding a Section 8 federal rent voucher. Since it's legal in California (unlike other states) to discriminate against renters paying with Section 8, KPCC reports that the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles is trying to incentivize landlords to give these voucher-holders a chance, offering some nice perks to taking them on as tenants.

Section 8 vouchers offer rent subsidies to landlords who accept the low-income voucher holders as tenants. At an informational meeting for landlords this week, the housing authority shared its incentives for property owners to take the vouchers, including offering a "guaranteed damage mitigation fund," which will pay for work on the apartment after the tenant moves out. They're also paying the security deposits and holding fees to lock down apartments for Section 8 recipients.

But there are still some hurdles to getting landlords to take these renters. One of the landlords who attended that meeting says that a big drawback is that Section 8 vouchers only cover rents up to $1,600. Rents in LA for two-bedroom apartments are largely higher than that, so even with the incentives, a landlord is still losing money on that deal. (That $1,600 ceiling is calculated for the LA metro area's "fair market rent" by the feds.)

The staffer who oversees the the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles's Section 8 program tells KPCC there are 1,000 people with vouchers right now who are in need of housing that will accept them. In the meantime, those people are on the street and in shelters.