BAKERSFIELD,Calif.- — Housing in Kern County can be difficult to find for some renters and buyers. It is even more of a challenge for individuals searching for low-income housing.
Currently, there are more than 16,000 people waiting to be placed in the Low-Income Public Housing program, according to the Housing Authority of the County of Kern.
The housing authority states that many people are coming to Bakersfield, because it is one of the more affordable places to live in California.
23 ABCs, Lezla Gooden spoke with Teresa Patrick, a low-income resident, who says she was expecting to be on the list for 10 years but was able to get in sooner due to a special circumstance.
“If it wasn’t for this place and for the low income as far as the rent, making it affordable for us live, there is no way I could live and survive on $898.00 a month,” said Patrick.
Patrick has just relocated to the area from a safe house in Pennsylvania. She says she only had to wait seven months on the low-income waiting list, while the average wait can be up to two years.
“I knew it was a long shot and it would be years or longer on the waiting list,” said Patrick. “They bumped me to the top of the list when they found out I was [the] wife of my deceased husband who was veteran.”
Heather Kimmel, assistant executive director for the Housing Authority of the County of Kern, says they are constantly trying to create more affordable housing opportunities.
“We have 260 new affordable housing units in the pipeline that we anticipate it will be open to the public in the next 12 to 30 months,” said Kimmel.
Kimmel says there are currently 16,000 people on the Low-Income Public Housing program list, and only 865 units.
“The vacancy rate is roughly two percent which is a very low vacancy rate and they are of high demand here and I think it’s because Bakersfield is a very desirable place to live,” Kimmel said.
There are also 7,000 people on the Housing Choice Voucher program wait list. “It’s when somebody receives rental assistance and then they go out to the private market and find a landlord to rent to them,” said Kimmel. “[And] then they pay thirty percent of their income towards rent and housing authority subsidizes the remaining amount.”
Kimmel explains out of the thousands on the waiting lists, they are chosen based on a lottery system. She says about half of those are from Kern County and legally they must open it up to everyone in the U.S. According to Kimmel, there are special circumstances where some individuals find housing more quickly.
“We do prioritize those one the waiting list who are veterans and who are homeless. So, we do have some preferences for some people that might need a little more assistance.
Such as in Teresa Patrick’s case, who has a message for fellow house seekers. “Never give up, never give up hope,” said Patrick.
Kimmel says there are other low-income options outside of these two programs. For a list of those developments and information on how to qualify for low income housing, follow this link.