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Section 8 vouchers have been one of the federal government’s landmark responses to unaffordable housing for half a century. But too often in California, families sit on a waitlist for years only to see their once-golden ticket expire before they can find a home.
A fresh batch of emergency vouchers became available last year to address growing housing insecurity during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic — and local and federal officials watching their rollout believe the new vouchers’ features already offer some promising solutions to a broken system.
Housing choice vouchers, added in 1974 to Section 8 of the federal Housing Act of 1937, allow low-income tenants to pay only 30% of their income toward rent and utilities while Uncle Sam shoulders the rest. These vouchers have helped pay rent for more than 300,000 households in California this year, totaling $1.9 billion in assistance.
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