Santa Monica City Hall (File photo)

Individuals that want to receive federal housing subsidies will have a 12-hour application window beginning on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Santa Monica will open applications for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program next week but this year’s system will accept fewer individuals and implement more stringent qualification priorities.

Santa Monica’s Section 8 wait list has been closed since 2011 when more than 36,000 people applied to be part of the program. Staff said the overwhelmingly large list and long wait time created difficulties for officials when a voucher became available.

“What we have discovered is out of about 500 people, we might be able to find 10 people that are qualified to have a voucher and that takes an enormous amount of time for staff,” said Housing Authority Administrator Lucie Loach.

To improve efficiency, the old list will be deleted and a new list will be capped at 500 individuals. The revised list will be refreshed every six months to make sure those with the greatest need are being served.

According to the City, the federal program is based on the gross annual income of all household members and restricted to $30,400 for a 1-person household, $34,750 for a 2-person household, $39,100 for a 3-person household, $43,400 for a 4-person household, and $46,900 for a 5-person household.

Loach said one reason for the excessively large list was the receipt of applications from individuals who never had any chance of receiving a voucher. This year, officials are broadcasting a list of qualifications that will be used to determine priority on the new list. Anyone can apply, but the likelihood of securing a spot on the list without meeting at least one (if not more) of the priority regulations is slim.

Priority will be given to individuals that live or work in Santa Monica and those that have been displaced form housing within the city. Additional priority will be assigned to if a member of the household is a veteran, elderly, living with a disability, employed full time, has minor children in Santa Monica schools or if more than half of the total household income is paid toward rent and not already in subsidized housing.

While the list is only open for 12 hours next week, any Santa Monica resident that is displaced throughout the year can be added to the list at any time. Those displaced individuals are given top priority and become first in line for an available voucher. Displaced individuals are those that have lost their housing due to the Ellis Act, owner-occupancy, code enforcement, disaster (fire, flood, earthquake, etc.) or domestic violence.

Staff said vouchers become available when a current recipient no longer qualifies either due to increased income, moving out of the area or a death. The local authority issues about four vouchers per month to individuals on the wait list.

City Hall is developing a locally funded housing subsidy program that will be independent of federal money and restrictions. The local program is a work in progress and staff said they expect to return to council sometime this year for additional discussion.

Individuals that want to apply for the Section 8 program can do so at several locations. Anyone can apply at one of two sites staffed by the Housing Authority. Both are located in the Pico Branch Library complex. Staff will be at the Annex Community Meeting Facility, 2201 Pico Blvd., from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. They will also be at the Teen Center at Virginia Avenue Park, 2200 Virginia Ave. from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Services will also be available to some potential applicants through local partner organizations.

The Westside Center for Independent Living, 12901 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, will help individuals with disabilities on an appointment only basis.

The People Concern (TPC – formerly known as OPCC) will help current OPCC clients only from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

St. Joseph Center will help clients from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Step Up on Second will help clients from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Chrysalis will help clients from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Applications will be available in English and Spanish and are accessible online via computer, tablet, or smartphone. For persons who require reasonable accommodation or language assistance, please call (310) 458-2232 at least three days in advance.

Visit https://beta.smgov.net/strategic-goals/inclusive-diverse-community/housing-choice-voucher-program for more information and to view the frequently asked questions.

editor@www.smdp.com