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Federal Housing Voucher Utilization Promoted in Bill by California Assembly Majority Leader Reyes – Tens of Thousands of Federal Housing Choice Vouchers Are Left Unused Each Year

Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes says, “AB 653 will prevent Californians from falling into homelessness, increase oversight and accountability, and invest in proven solutions to house Californians.”

SACRAMENTO – While affordable housing demand remains high, tens of thousands of federal housing choice vouchers are left unused each year. In order to increase use of these vouchers, Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes has announced legislation, AB 653, which would create the Federal Housing Voucher Acceleration Program.

The program would:

  • Pair voucher recipients with services to find and secure housing,
  • Incentivize landlords to get their units approved to accept vouchers, and
  • Require public housing authorities with the lowest voucher utilization rates to follow evidence-based practices for improvement.

“I hear from people throughout my district and the state whose eligibility for federal vouchers does nothing to house them,” said Reyes. “When someone receives a voucher to make rent affordable, but they cannot find an available unit to accept it, we see federal dollars left on the table and a household who remains housing insecure. We have to do something to make sure we are maximizing the use of federal resources. This bill provides a common sense way to ensure the state is using federal funding to pair individuals and families with places to live.”

“It has been very hard to use my housing voucher in the Inland Empire,” said Traci, an individual who has gone through the process. “It took me forever to get into a place, and the apartment was vacant for three months. I even tried other places while I was waiting, but was constantly declined.”

AB 653 is sponsored by the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Housing California, National Housing Law Project, United Ways of California and Western Center on Law and Poverty. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 33% of families in San Bernardino have to return their unused voucher back to the local PHA and only 44.7% of LA County recipients have success finding housing with a voucher.

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