Affordable Housing in Los Angeles for Low-income Individuals

    Homeownership is one of the basic requirements of life. It is a basis for the health and well-being of individuals and families and a healthy, economically vibrant, and diverse community. In addition to boosting local spending and employment, homeownership brings revenue to local governments and reduces foreclosure risks. 

    Many low-income housing programs in Los Angeles cater to the provision of affordable housing options for low-income citizens.

    Current Housing Situation In Los Angeles

    Increasing housing costs are making Los Angeles a very unaffordable city. The residents of Los Angeles must earn at least $38.23 per hour, which is 2.5 times more than the official minimum wage set forth by the City of LA, to be able to pay an average monthly rent of $1,988 based on the California Housing Partnership’s 2021 findings. 

    According to the LA Housing Report of 2020 by the California Housing Partnership, LA residents who were earning minimum wages had a shortage of $33,159 on average after paying housing costs. This gap resulted in their inability to pay for other essential living expenses, such as food, healthcare, education, and transportation. 

    Of the extremely low-income families residing in LA County, 78% are paying over 50% of their income for housing expenses every month. It is far too difficult to find affordable housing in Los Angeles. 

    According to a California Housing Partnership study conducted in 2021, about 800,000 low-income families in LA require low-cost housing options, and the current supply of affordable housing units is short by nearly 500,000. 

    The pace of the supply of new affordable housing units is unable to keep up with the rapidly escalating demand, with just a little over 8,200 new units added between April 2021 and the end of March 2022.

    Affordable Housing Program

    Most affordable housing programs are run and administered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The HUD deems those housing options as affordable, for which rent and utilities account for 30% or less than 30% of the household’s total monthly income. 

    Families that spend more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities are considered rent-burdened. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 50% of Los Angeles County households were rent-burdened, but that number increased to nearly 75%, with most households spending over half of their income on housing.

    The applicant’s household income must fall between 50% and 60% of the area median income (AMI). The AMI varies by household size (i.e., the number of family members within the household). This means that the income level increases with the increasing size of the household.

    Process For Getting Affordable Housing

    If you are looking for affordable housing options in Los Angeles, you’ll need to follow the process detailed below. When affordable housing units become available, the property managers must make the public aware of the unit’s availability. 

    The rules and requirements set forth by the HUD in this regard cannot merely be satisfied by giving an ad in a newspaper. The developers need to find different means of alerting all the eligible applicants in the area who might need to be made aware of the availability of low-income affordable housing units.

    After that, the respective property managers collect applications from eligible households. If your household is eligible for affordable housing, you can apply in person, online using the HUD website, or through the mail. 

    The application period is typically one month, after which the property manager holds a lottery to establish the order for the eligible applications to be reviewed. This ensures that the applicants who were the earliest to apply and those who have waited for the longest duration for an affordable housing unit get no advantage. 

    This way, every applicant has an equal shot at winning an affordable housing unit. However, if you come out on top of the lottery, there is no guarantee that you’ll receive a housing unit. 

    If you are among the lottery winners, you will get priority in submitting your paperwork and proving that you meet the income limit requirements set forth by the program. In the third and final step, the HUD determines the eligibility of the shortlisted applicants and decides which households can move into the affordable housing units. 

    During this process, the applicants are subject to a background check and other eligibility criteria to see whether they qualify as eligible renters. In this step, the applicant’s financial information and the information about their family members are verified. 

    Are you a resident of Texas looking to buy your first home? Check out our article about first-time homebuyer grants in Texas.

    HACLA Public Housing 

    The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) operates a city-wide waiting list for each public housing site. Whether a family is placed on the public housing program waiting list depends on their eligibility status and the date/time of their application.

    Local Preference Eligibility

    When applying for admission to the public housing program, family members who qualify for a local preference will receive priority. According to the Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP), those applicant families will receive local preference whose family head or the co-head fulfills any of the following conditions.

    • The applicant may be a worker on minimum wage with at least 20 hours of work per week and has been employed for at least six months before eligibility is determined; or
    • The applicant is engaged in full-time study at an accredited higher education institution that can potentially lead to employment; or
    • The applicant spends a minimum of 20 hours a week attending accredited higher education institutions and working; or
    • The applicant is currently serving in the US armed forces or is a veteran; or
    • The applicant is either disabled or over the age of 62.

    Additional Eligibility Requirements

    An applicant’s eligibility for the low-income Los Angeles housing program is determined by verifying the following information after the applicants are shortlisted for an initial interview.

    • A minimum age of 18 is required for both the applicant and the co-applicant.
    • Criminal background checks are required for all adults in the household.
    • The household must at least have one member with eligible immigration status.
    • A household’s annual income must be, at most, the minimum income limit set by HUD. As of 1 May 2022, these income limits apply to households seeking public housing.

    How To Apply

    A valid email address is required to register for a RentCafe account and apply for the Public Housing Program online. For those without email addresses, applicants can create an account with Yahoo, Gmail, or any other email service provider of their choice and click here to apply. 

    When you submit the online application, you will receive a registration code that can come in handy for accessing your application afterward.

    Read our blog post about free grants for home repairs. If you are interested in other grants and assistance programs to help improve your living situation, check out our other blogs at Gov-Relations.