LOS ANGELES — It’s been more than a year since Krystal Holguin received her Section 8 voucher. The approval initially came with some relief, but finding somewhere for her and her daughter to use it came with another round of stress.

“It felt so good. It lifted weight off my shoulders to know that I might have a home soon. But the struggles are basically like my credit. I don’t have credit, rental history and basically landlords not wanting to rent to me,” Holguin said.

For the last three years, she and her daughter have had temporary shelter at Holliday’s Helping Hands. With the help of her case manager, Crystal Loza, she was able to extend her expiring voucher to May. But time is ticking.

“I’ve got to keep looking, but I’m not going to give up,” she said.

As of 2020, it’s against the law for California landlords not to accept a tenant because of Section 8. But many find a way to do so anyway, Loza said. Long processing times, lack of credit and rental history are challenges she comes across for voucher holders who are running out of time.

“We have six families that have vouchers. These vouchers will be expiring within the next two to three months and once they expire, the families lose their voucher and have to start reapplying,” Loza said.

Voucher coverage amounts are another barrier. To help Section 8 voucher holders afford rent prices on the west side of Los Angeles and other pricier zip codes in the city, the Housing Authority of The City of Los Angeles approved an increase that could cover up to nearly $3,000 for a one-bedroom apartment in some areas. The increase applies to families enrolled in the Housing Choice Voucher program. It’s a win for landlords and tenants, said Daniel Tenenbaum, the vice chair of HACLA’s Board of Commissioners.

“That really opens things up for those who are lucky enough to have gotten off the Section 8 waiting list. They have a voucher and in the past, they haven’t always been able to find places or parts of the city where they wanted to live. Now they can,” Tenenbaum said.

There’s also been efforts to speed up the Section 8 unit approval process, he said.

“Every day of waiting for approval is another day of missing rent. We understand that. Our systems are in place to try to minimize that. However, we still have a responsibility to make sure that when a Section 8 tenant moves in that the unit is habitable and that the paperwork reflects what’s required by HUD,” he said.

With less than a month left before her voucher expires, Holguin hopes she and her daughter will find somewhere to call home.

“It would mean a lot just for her to have her own room and, you know, experience home-cooked meals,” she said.