After nearly a decade of homelessness, Carter Anderson thought his break had finally come in October 2014, when the City of Vacaville Housing Authority told him that he had been granted a housing choice voucher. Anderson, 30, works a part-time job, but isn't offered enough hours to make ends meet. He hoped that the voucher, entitling him to rental assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Section 8 program, would change that.
Anderson had already spent six years on the housing authority's waiting list, but that wasn't the last barrier he would face: He soon found his application rejected by a string of landlords on the basis of a conviction for drug possession he'd received as a teenager. Under HUD's regulations, he had just 120 days to find a suitable apartment and sign a lease within the city of Vacaville, California, where he says affordable housing is in short supply to begin with. Ultimately, the voucher expired in February as Anderson scrambled to find an apartment that would accept him, leaving him crushed and back to square one.