County of Kern Reopens Housing Voucher Program for First Time in 10 Years | News

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Kern County Housing Authority will reopen its Housing Choice Voucher program for new applicants next month.

Commonly referred to as Section 8 housing, rent assistance vouchers have proven to be an essential resource for thousands of low-income families in Kern County. Over the past 10 years, the Housing Authority has not accepted new applications because it operated with a waiting list of around 17,000.

Now that the list is exhausted, new families will finally be able to apply for the program, which ensures tenants only spend 30% of their income on rent, with the Housing Authority paying the balance.

By reducing rental charges, the Housing Authority also hopes to reduce related stressors such as increased rates of domestic violence and attendance issues that studies have linked to families who have to pay a high proportion of their income for rent. .

“There is a direct correlation between being overburdened with rent and the negative impacts on this household,” Heather Kimmel, deputy director of the Housing Authority, said at a press conference Wednesday. “So we don’t just offer rent assistance, we actually reduce the rental costs of families so that they can be stabilized not only in their living situation and in their housing, but also in other areas of their family. life. “

As in previous years, the program is expected to be extremely popular. The Housing Authority anticipates that it will receive approximately 20,000 applications during the one-month period in which they are accepted.

Approximately 380 of these applicants will be randomly selected to receive housing vouchers for this year.

But those who miss the call won’t have to wait another 10 years before they can apply. Unlike its previous policy, the Housing Authority plans to reopen its application window every year. Those who wish to remain eligible will need to continue to apply.

“We are trying to serve as many people as possible, to help as many low-income families in Kern County have that safe and decent home as they can afford,” said publicist Justin Salters, who has assisted the Housing Authority to market the ad.

For owners, the reopening of applications comes at a time of greater acceptance of tenants with titles. Sanjeev Advani, president of Synergy Real Estate and Property Management, said the opinions of landlords in Kern County have changed over the past five years, with landlords now more willing to rent to those with housing vouchers.

“The good ones are more relevant today than they were in the past,” he said. “Right now, for the rent you can get for a three bedroom, you can get about $ 1,450 a month. It’ll put you in a C / C + type neighborhood, where you’re going to have a decent school. So I think it’s really great. Whereas before I would have said you have a little more of that stigma.

The application window will open from 10 a.m. on January 28 to 5 p.m. on February 28. Only online applications will be accepted. You can find more information at

Only households earning 80 percent of the region’s median income or less will be allowed to apply. In Kern County, a family of four must earn less than about $ 55,000 a year. A household member must also have legal immigrant status or be a U.S. citizen to be eligible.

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You can also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

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