Stockton, CA (November 2021) – California’s shortage of affordable housing continues to affect some of the most vulnerable citizens of Stockton and San Joaquin County. Solutions have been difficult to achieve, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have only increased the challenges faced by low-income renters.
In order to maintain housing stability, low-income households need rental subsidies. The Housing Authority County of San Joaquin (HACSJ) assists over 4,300 San Joaquin County residents with monthly rent assistance and supporting housing stability for homeless veterans, the elderly, and families moving from shelters and transitional housing programs. Currently, there are over 400 new families with vouchers seeking a home to rent, but landlord awareness and engagement is needed to really make inroads in housing stability.
“These rental assistance programs rely on the private rental market to connect low-income households to stable housing and are often unable to serve that mission when landlords are unwilling to rent to these deserving families in the most competitive housing market in San Joaquin County’s history,” explained Tom Patti, Chairman of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. “The landlord voucher and incentive program is a common-sense solution that will provide property owners the support they need to offer housing to low-income individuals who have a reliable government subsidized voucher to pay the rent each month. With all of this assistance available, landlords can play a vital role in helping people get off the streets and placed into secure, affordable housing.”
“We have unprecedented housing assistance from the American Rescue Plan, including landlord incentives that are first in our community, to help people transitioning from homelessness,” added Peter W. Ragsdale, Executive Director of HACSJ. “We need to find a way to collaborate and not let this opportunity go to waste.” HACSJ received 232 Emergency Housing Vouchers representing $3.5 million dollars of housing assistance at full utilization.
HACSJ has taken several steps to enhance the Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly known as Section 8, by hiring two housing navigators. The navigators provide a critical service to low-income households by locating rental units, acting as advocates and negotiators, and assisting participants in becoming document-ready. With funds from the City of Stockton, the County of San Joaquin, and HUD, HACSJ can offer incentives to encourage landlords to lease their property to families who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
“We could get dozens of families out of shelters and into housing this minute if there were apartments available,” said Jon Mendelson, director of Central Valley Low Income Housing Corp. Separate from the housing authority, CVLIHC provides housing support to more than 300 homeless households each month, and Mendelson said they have more than 125 households currently approved for assistance who can’t find homes. “We need landlords who will partner with us to address our housing crisis.”
For landlords interested in providing housing for homeless families and families at risk of homelessness, incentives include security deposit assistance, unit repairs, start utility service, rental application fees, vacancy loss payments, and a one-time leasing bonus.
“Stockton has been affected by the housing shortage throughout California which has impacted the availability and affordability of units,” stated Stockton’s mayor, Kevin Lincoln. “It is critical that we do everything we can to increase access to affordable rental units in Stockton, especially for our low-income families with vouchers, who are ready to transition out of shelters and into housing. We hope this program will incentivize landlords to open up housing opportunities for our most vulnerable residents, that will create housing stability, and prevent future homelessness in our city.”
HACSJ will be hosting a press conference regarding this opportunity that will include representatives from San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and Stockton City Council, on Friday, November 12, at 9:30 AM at 2575 Grand Canal Blvd. in Stockton.