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Oakland, CA - Six months after launching the innovative “Owners Benefit Program,” the first of its kind in the country, Mayor Libby Schaaf and Oakland Housing Authority officials reported nearly doubling the number of Sect.8 households in Oakland over the same time last year.
Since the program began in January, 682 new households have leased Sect. 8 housing in Oakland.
At the start of 2018, Mayor Schaaf and OHA officials launched a new set of incentives to attract private property owners to the Section 8 program, the largest affordable housing program in the City of Oakland. After spending more than a year to negotiate special approvals from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to become the country’s first city to offer a unique mix of incentives for property owners, Mayor Schaaf and the OHA announced three key incentives for property owners:
- $500 signing bonus
- Up to $2,500 in interest-free loans for repairs and upgrades
- Up to two months paid rent to maintain the unit for Section 8 housing (instead of putting it on open market)
To date, 75 new property owners have signed up to accept Section 8 housing vouchers in Oakland. Sixty-four owners received the two months-paid rent to keep their units on the Sect. 8 market. And more than 508 units have received a free inspection to bring their units up to Sect. 8 code.
“More Oakland families can feel a sense of housing security thanks to this unique and innovative program,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Oakland’s most vulnerable residents rely on Section 8 vouchers, and I’m proud to live in a city where property owners opened their doors during this crisis. Now, we want to be a model for the region and share our innovation with more cities to help resolve our shared affordable housing crisis.”
At the time of the announcement, there was only one unit of Sect. 8 housing available to a long waiting list of families in Oakland, said Eric Johnson, Executive Director of the Housing Authority. Today, there are 100 units available.
“Early in the housing crisis, the Mayor convened a Housing Cabinet to look at all options to address the crisis head on,” Johnson said. “One of the areas we focused on was how we could make our federally funded programs work better, and these property owners’ incentives grew out of that discussion.”
“Due to the launching of our owner incentive program, OHA has seen positive outcomes for voucher households who are searching for available units,” said Michelle Hasan, OHA’s Director of Leased Housing. “The GoSection 8 owner listings have increased by 100 percent.”
The Owner Benefits Program was one recommendation born from the Housing Cabinet convened by Mayor Schaaf in 2016, which developed a series of strategies to protect 17,000 affordable housing units for Oakland families and produce 17,000 new units of housing by 2024.
If property owners wish to help keep Oakland economically diverse, and make a difference and participate in the Section 8 program, please contact OHA’s Leased Housing Department Owner Services Division by calling (510)587-2118 or (510)587-7161.
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