* In response to “Landlords Suffer as Fearful Quake Victims Move Away,” April 23:
Your report covers a lot of territory on the post-earthquake residential rental market. However, your passing reference to the Section 8 rental assistance program for low-income families requires clarification. The article reports that 15,000 Section 8 certificates have not been used and government officials cannot explain why.
This statement was news to us, the agency administering the Section 8 Certificate Earthquake Emergency Housing Program. The Housing Authority of Los Angeles has issued about 15,700 certificates to date. Over 9,500 of these certificates have, in fact, been used to house families displaced by the earthquake. The 18-month Section 8 certificates were made available by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Henry Cisneros, who recognized that low-income households faced many impediments in seeking decent affordable replacement housing as a result of the earthquake.
Cisneros further recognized that some low-income families would need additional help in locating units. Large families, people with disabilities, and applicants with bad credit histories are being helped by nonprofit organizations with experience in relocation and negotiating with landlords on behalf of poor families. The nonprofits are making it possible for over 80% of the eligible households issued emergency Section 8 certificates to obtain decent, affordable housing.
DONALD J. SMITH
Los Angeles Housing Authority