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Vestal on Barriers to Addressing Homelessness

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Mark Vestal spoke to LAist about Section 8, a federal program that subsidizes housing for low-income individuals and families, the elderly and disabled. This program allows individuals experiencing homelessness to secure housing through vouchers. However, Vestal noted that about 50% of the people who get vouchers still can’t find housing. Landlords are incentivized to accept housing vouchers when they are in communities in decline and they are unable to get market-rate rent, but the incentive disappears when neighborhoods start to gentrify. “Landlords can discriminate against voucher holders and they have complete discretion,” Vestal explained. Furthermore, once an individual finds an apartment, it can still take a long time for the housing voucher to be approved. Vestal concluded that unhoused people have ideas about how they want to live with belongings and social space, and we should have a housing system that respects their needs and wants.

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