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Nearly 200 homeless Sacramentans could soon lose their 'golden ticket' to find housing

Theresa Clift, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

BALTIMORE — Sacramento’s low-income residents with a so-called “golden ticket to housing” face losing that Section 8 voucher if they fail to secure a rental in the coming months.

Brenda and Shawn White are among the roughly 175 Section 8 voucher holders who are in the process the of finding housing. Voucher holders have always had four months to start using their benefit but extensions have been relatively easy to secure. The Whites have received extensions since getting their voucher 2022, Brenda White said.

As a result of federal budget cuts, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency is planning to stop extending vouchers for people who don’t secure housing in the allotted time.

The Whites feel the pressure of their June 11 voucher deadline as they only started to search for housing about two months ago after being evicted from temporary housing that they say they were led to believe was permanent.

They received a letter on April 9 that stated, “If you are not residing in a subsidized unit at the time of your voucher expiration and/or you do not have a Request for Tenancy Approval (paperwork) submitted, your voucher will be expired, and you will be removed from the program,” the letter stated.

“Our back is up against the wall,” said Brenda White, 49, after receiving the letter. “It doesn’t give us a lot of time to find a place ... if we can’t find a place, there’s no way we an afford to survive ... the average rent is $1,600 to $1,800, and that’s on the low end.”

 

The couple finally found a landlord to accept the voucher, but it would require $500 out of pocket that the voucher would not cover — money they do not have, Brenda White said.

The Whites can’t work and live off a disability check of less than $1,000 a month. Shawn White, 62, is in a wheelchair, and suffers from spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease. Brenda White, who grew up in Sacramento, is his caretaker. Since the eviction earlier this year, the pair have been staying on a friend’s couch but will not be able to stay much longer. The eviction was due to nonpayment of rent, but the couple said they were told their rent was covered by the county.

Can Sacramento fight to save its Section 8 vouchers?

The Whites are in the group of about 175 that Mayor Darrell Steinberg said he is intent on housing in the coming months. Part of the reason for the urgency is that if the 175 don’t find housing, their vouchers will not go to any of the other 51,000 Sacramento families on the waitlist for a voucher. Instead they’ll be returned to the federal government.

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