Last week, the Glendale Housing Authority approved an updated plan that altered the way affordable, or Section 8, housing will be administered, as both a way to streamline the process for applicants and cut down on potential fraud in the system.
The authority acts as the Public Housing Agency for Glendale, which is responsible for providing rental housing for eligible low-income families, persons with disabilities and the elderly.
The meeting last week was the filing of the Section 8 annual plan for fiscal year 2018-19, a document that provides a snapshot of the Section program for both Glendale and the federal Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.
Authority members also considered proposed changes to the Section 8 administrative plan, which determines guidelines for city staff on implementation of Section 8 programs. The last update to the plan was in 2011, and HUD has since undergone major changes.
Veronica Velarde, a housing analyst with the city, presented a number of mandated and discretionary modifications to Glendale's plan based on changes with HUD.
Mandated updates included the 2013 Violence Against Women Act and availability of major program documents in different languages. The mandated updates also restrict and clarify use of an applicant's criminal history when deciding eligibility and streamline the use of vouchers between different housing authorities.
There were four discretionary changes approved by the authority, dictating how the Glendale housing division can tailor a policy to its own needs.
Previously, when a Section 8 family used a car or credit card from outside the family, those activities counted as gifts and contributed toward calculating a family's income during an annual review.
The process required a complex conversion to a dollar amount for cars, and bank statements from the third-party credit card holder had to be submitted to the housing authority to prorate a percentage toward the family's income.
Glendale has now dropped consideration of the use of a car owned by someone else outside the family as a source of income. Also, voucher holders who bill expenses on another person's credit card will only be required to submit a certification of family support from the person who owns the account.
"Both of these changes clarify requirements and simplify the submission of documents [for Section 8 participants]," said Anne Bockenkamp, principal housing coordinator with the city.
The housing authority also approved what type of family members could be added to a Section 8 household. Where there was once no categorical restriction, Glendale will allow only those who qualify as a minor child, spouse or partner under the new rules.
The change was inspired, in part, by what Bockenkamp referred to as an upward trend in applications to be added to Section 8 households.
According to a staff report, there were 24 household addition applications in fiscal year 2017, and in the past three months, there are already 18.
"We find this may be a method of circumventing the…[Section 8] wait list," Bockenkamp said. "If this new member is particularly younger than the Section 8 household member, then it becomes a generational transfer."
Another approved change will allow units that pass annual housing-quality inspections to instead be inspected biennially. Those who have previously failed inspections will remain at the annual rate. Tenant-requested and special inspections will still be available.