Placer Speeds Access to Housing Assistance, Focuses On Veterans
Having a place to call home is a basic human need, but for some, having a home can be a tremendous struggle.
The Placer County Public Housing Authority Board of Commissioners March 22 took two steps to improve access to resources for those struggling to afford a place to live, updating its housing assistance plan to streamline applications for veterans and reduce wait times for rental assistance vouchers.
The voucher program, formerly known as the Section 8 Housing Voucher Program, is a rental assistance program to help low-income individuals and families, persons with disabilities, veterans and seniors so they can live in affordable, safe and decent housing. The program covers all of Placer County with the exception of the City of Roseville, which has its own housing authority.
Placer County’s housing assistance resources are administered under the Placer County Housing Authority Administrative Plan, a policy document required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to receive federal funding for local programs.
Placer’s updated plan, which was approved by PHA Board of Commissioners, as well as submission of the board’s resolution and required certificates of program compliance, will secure $2.1 million in federal funding for the Placer County Housing Choice Voucher program, providing up to 297 subsidized housing vouchers.
One update to the plan allows veterans preferential placement on the housing authority’s waiting list. Currently, Placer County has 69 vouchers available through a separate Department of Veterans Affairs voucher program. Local veterans currently use 35 of these vouchers. These veterans are referred to the county by the VA office in Reno, Nevada. Under the current program, the county cannot seek out veterans to apply to the program. Instead, veterans must be referred to the county by the VA.
“This new amendment will allow veterans who are not part of the VA voucher program preferential placement on the housing authority list,” said Jeff Brown, director of Placer County’s Health and Human Services Department. “We are committed to providing the best possible housing solutions for the community we serve, and that includes the veterans who have served our country.”
The plan update also allows the housing authority to open its waiting list annually rather than every couple of years. This will help reduce the number of applicants waiting for assistance, rather than the current process of clearing off people who have already found housing and identifying those applicants still in-need.
The program is not limited to units in subsidized housing projects and allows participants to choose their own housing, including single family homes, townhomes and apartments, provided they meet program requirements.
The voucher program currently assists 556 Placer County residents. There are 200 people on the waiting list. Placer County staff anticipate the wait list will be open this fall once the current list has been purged of applicants no longer in-need of the program. The wait list opens when the number of applicants is low enough to warrant a new list.