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Glendale officials: Affordable housing options slim

About 120 people attend the first of three affordable-housing informational meetings.

January 28, 2014|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

The Fhardos have been waiting for subsidized housing assistance in Glendale for 13 years and, after attending an affordable housing informational meeting hosted by the city Monday night, the elderly couple said they felt more in the know, but frustrated by their slim chances.

“It’s so hard,” said 62-year-old Angela Fhardo, who cares for her blind husband, Jose.

The retired husband and wife were two of 12,000 people who applied for Section 8 housing in Glendale back in 2001. Since then, the wait list has been closed and city officials only pull people off as funding becomes available, which isn’t often, said Cindy Williams, a Section 8 supervisor with the city.

Section 8 housing is paid for by the federal government.

Even as people may leave the program, money may not become available. Two years ago, the city’s Section 8 program had a $1 million deficit which city officials had to bridge with Section 8 reserves, Williams said.

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“The number of people we’re assisting is decreasing each month,” she said.

But the need is still out there, Councilman Zareh Sinanyan said during the meeting at Cerritos Elementary School, which was attended by about 120 people. The high attendance at the meeting, which was the first of three meetings slated, highlighted the need in Glendale, said Sinanyan, who had asked for city staff to host the events.

“We’re acutely aware of how serious this issue is and we want to make sure there’s as much information as possible,” Sinanyan said.

Williams said the wait list is continually changing, and officials scrutinize the finances of households that receive the subsidy. Some at the meeting complained they see people they know who receive the Section 8 subsidy driving fancy cars, but there’s more to the story, Williams said. The city may count the car as an asset, giving the household a smaller subsidy, she said.

The city once did a sweep of Section 8 recipients to check on those owning cars such as BMWs and Jaguars, but most of the vehicles were very old and few were worth more than $20,000, said Mike Fortney, the city’s senior housing project manager.

Most people who receive Section 8 housing make about $14,100 annually and 91% are extremely low-income, Williams said.

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