Section 8 applicants will still face difficulties finding low re - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Section 8 applicants will still face difficulties finding low rent housing

Part of the reason the waiting list for Section 8 Housing takes so long to pare down is because there's a shortage of Section 8 housing, at least in the Lake Charles area.

It's because of the economy and high rent. Local officials are working to increase the dollars available, but it's still hard for residents to find the housing.

"It's harder than Houston and Houston is bigger," said Kristina Broussard, who lives in public housing on Anita Drive. Her hope is to find a Section 8 house.

With Section 8 housing, the resident pays up to one-third of their income for rent and the rest is paid for with money from the federal HUD (Housing and Urban Development) funds.

"Hopefully I can find something affordable, three-bedroom duplex, house anything other than the projects," she said.

She wants a backyard for her three small kids, who are in the backseat of her car in the LC Housing Authority parking lot.

"A lot of privacy and then they'll be able to run around outside because I don't let them run around outside where we're at. They'll actually be able to go outside and play in the yard," she says smiling, as if she can picture the scene.

Yet, with high rents, and a lack of affordable housing, there's not a lot of Section 8 out there and the reason is simple.  Why, hypothetically, would a landlord take $1,000 from a Section 8 tenant if he or she can get $1,500 from a non-Section 8 renter.

Director of Lake Charles Housing Authority Ben Taylor says HUD has increased what it can provide for fair market rent, but he says they've already asked for another increase because fair market rents here are the highest in the state right now.

HUD last increased the subsidy to 120 percent of fair market value to be competitive with local housing rent and they are now asking for 135 percent of market value.

"The need is tremendous. We had over 1000 people come in today and we're giving them an application," said Taylor.

"It's a reflection of what is happening in the conventional market with all the industrial expansion that we've got going on. It drains all the available housing," he said. 

Even realtors who handle more rental properties than most will often respond there's no Section 8 available. It's up to landlords to decide if they will participate in the Section 8 program - and at least in this market, doing so may reduce their profit. 

Yet, besides helping someone in need, Taylor says to Section 8 landlords: "You can count on your money showing up every month."

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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