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News :: Environment
HUD Alphonso Jackson & Section 8 Disaster
19 Jun 2004
The HUD Section 8 Disaster!
For the latest in Tenant/Housing news join Roll Back The Rents.
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Alameda Section 8 Tenants Choose To Fight!

274 families of Alameda were notified that their Section 8 housing vouchers are being terminated, and many are choosing to stay where they are at, pay their portion of rent as required under the contract when moving in, and then wait and see what happens.

Across the nation thousands of renters face evictions due to HUD's double-cross and contempt of the poor in Section 8 housing. Housing authorities are trying to scare renters out of the rental units. Activists urge Section 8 tenants to stay in their housing to fight the proposed eviction due to the HUD created funding shortfalls. Section 8 tenants are being advised to pay their portion of the rent as usual, and allow the landlords to take the Pubilc Housing Authorities to court for failure to pay their portion of rent. It takes a court order to evict a tenant, and by law the landlords are required to serve Section 8 tenants a 90 Day Notice in advance before being allowed to file an eviction notice with the courts. Tenants do not have to pay rent if they receive the 90 day notice, and can save their money in the mean time. If tenants are still in the housing units after receipt of a 90 day notice from the landlord, the landlord then has the option of filing an eviction notice with the courts, if at all. It's the law.

HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson created this nightmare for Section 8 tenants, and the trail of disaster shows up in stories from across the nation for all to see....

Click below for the latest batch of stories nationwide to follow the Section 8 Disaster.

http://www.indybay.org/news/2004/06/1686041.php

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Below is more info, and and just a few of some of the latest stories to appear from around the nation.

NOTICE: After HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson sabotaged the nation's Section 8 program on April 22, it's come to HUD's attention that the nations housing authorities fail to have the necessary funding needed for the Section 8 voucher programs, and proposes the following as a solution.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition;

In an attempt to solve that problem (lack of funding for Section 8), HUD held a call on June 10 with several organizations that represent housing authorities to ask for their support in an emergency regulatory change that would allow housing authorities to reduce their maximum payment for housing vouchers while providing minimal notice to tenants and landlords.
 
Such a change would result in landlords getting less for their units, with the tenant’s share of the rent increased to offset the agencies’ savings. Under current law, a tenant has one year before the increase would take effect, but HUD’s proposal would make the increase effective within 30 days, giving residents little time to plan for rent increases.  According to reports, HUD may publish this revision as early as Monday, June 14, to take effect within 30 days.

*************
HOUSING AID CUTS RIPPLE; WAITING LIST HERE HAS THOUSANDS
Pat Schneider The Capital Times
Capital Times (Madison, WI)
June 18, 2004

Clintessa Walker, 20, says she's been waiting for two years for a Section 8 voucher to help pay the rent on an apartment for her and her two young children.

Forced to leave a $693-a-month place she couldn't afford on her earnings as a certified nursing assistant, Walker said she had just moved in temporarily with her mother. "She could lose her place because of us," Walker said Thursday while waiting outside the offices of Madison's Housing Operations Unit. "And there's no room for all of us."

Walker's chances of securing a voucher to help pay for a place of her own steadily are growing slimmer.

Hit by abrupt cutbacks in funding to the federal Section 8 program, housing authorities in Madison and Dane County, have little hope of whittling down waiting lists that now number in the thousands.

Rollbacks in Department of Housing and Urban Development funding are reverberating through housing agencies across the nation and may be just a token of tougher times to come, says a national housing advocacy group.

HUD's Section 8 program, administered by municipalities, pays landlords the remainder of fair-market rents after eligible tenants put 30 to 40 percent of their household income toward the rent.

"This is the first time in history that HUD has not made a promise to housing authorities to fund vouchers at whatever it costs us to assist families," said Carolyn Parham, executive director of the Dane County Housing Authority.

And HUD is cutting back on funding just as families need more help, said Agustin Olvera, director of Madison's Housing Operations Unit.

"People are getting poorer and poorer and contributing less and less to their rent," Olvera said, so the number of dollars of assistance per family has been increasing.

In addition, Madison is serving a growing number of large families that need bigger apartments that cost more, he said.

In the past, HUD would give local housing authorities the additional money needed to cover the rents of families with vouchers. "Now they say they will only give us a fixed amount," Olvera said.

Housing authorities were abruptly informed in April that, retroactive to the beginning of the year, they would receive funding based on voucher program expenses from last year.

That didn't take into account any increase in rents from last year to this, Parham noted. She estimated the county housing authority is likely to fall about $100,000 short on its $6.3 million voucher program.

Olvera is anticipating a shortfall of some $143,000 on Madison's $9.2 million voucher program.

Both the city and county closed the application list for vouchers more than a year ago because all the vouchers available -- some 1,600 for the city and 1,000 for the county -- were being used.

Parham said the county was able to move 25 families from its waiting list a month ago to replace families who had left the assistance program.

With the cutbacks in federal funding, "we probably will not be able to do that again this year," she said.

What's more, HUD also has reduced the fee it pays housing authorities for each voucher it administers by some 6 percent, Parham said.

Olvera said for the city that means "We may not have the funding to administer as many vouchers as we are allotted."

With more eligible families unable to secure voucher, "a lot of people are doubling up," Olvera said. "Or paying far more for housing than they can afford."

Another option for Madison is to lower the top price of apartments eligible under the Section 8 program from the current level of 110 percent of HUD's fair market rent to 100 percent.

That would effectively close off to voucher-holders the neighborhoods where rents run higher.

"We're debating the strategy now: Do we promote dispersion of voucher-holders or maybe serve a few more people?" Olvera said.

"The sentiment I hear is to give people a choice where to live," he said.

The retroactive changes to HUD's 2004 budget are just setting the stage for changes President Bush wants to make in 2005, said Katie Fisher of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington-based lobbying group.

Fisher said that Bush's 2005 budget would cut funding for Section 8 vouchers by $1.6 billion and let local housing authorities decide how to get by with less by allowing them to require voucher holders to pay more of their rent than the 30 to 40 percent maximum now allowed and let authorities subsidize fewer of the poorest families in the community than is now required.

"What they're accomplishing now is trimming the program back so the changes don't come all at once, and the backlash won't be as big if the Bush budget passes," Fisher said.

E-mail: pschneider (at) madison.com.

***********
Feds Step In to Ease Section 8 Shortfall, but Housing Authority Says Crisis Not Over
Jenn Abelson
The Boston Globe
June 13, 2004

Two weeks after notifying landlords that it could not pay rent this month for 945 low-income tenants who receive housing vouchers, the Quincy Housing Authority said an expected infusion of cash from the federal government this week should ease the $1.4 million funding shortfall.

Jackie Loud, acting executive director of the Quincy Housing Authority, said negotiations with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, have produced a tentative agreement to provide more than $1 million in funding to the local agency.

Loud said she expects to receive the money this week and the authority's board of directors will meet on Wednesday to discuss its next steps. If a budget shortfall still exists, the board must decide whether to pay only part of the already late rent payments for June. Landlords would be expected to forgive the unpaid portion of rent for Section 8 tenants.

"We realize what an extremely valuable resource the Section 8 program is, and we're giving it our best effort to fully fund so we can continue the program," Loud said.

A HUD spokeswoman said the government has agreed to give $1.2 million to the Quincy Housing Authority, leaving an estimated $200,000 gap in funding.

The federal agency provides money for public housing authorities to administer Section 8, a housing voucher program. Housing authorities across the state and country have confronted significant funding troubles after the federal government cut funding for the current fiscal year.

Kristine Foye, a spokeswoman for HUD's New England office, said the funding coming to Quincy is a combination of money owed from the last fiscal year, inflation adjustments, and funds to replenish the agency's reserves. Foye said local housing authorities have until July 15 to contact HUD "if they feel they are being cut short. . . . The last thing anybody wants is to have anybody terminated from this program."

Housing advocates said the cuts in funding this year have jeopardized a critical housing program for low-income tenants; in Quincy, at least 40 landlords have threatened to leave the program and possibly evict tenants if the situation is not resolved.

Advocates sent a letter last week to Governor Mitt Romney asking him to pressure the US government to restore full funding to the local housing agencies.

Although the federal government recently provided additional funds to replenish the reserves of some public housing authorities, many agencies in Massachusetts remain underfunded, ac cording to the June 8 letter, signed by Aaron Gornstein, executive director of the Citizens' Housing and Planning Association, and Thomas J. Connelly Jr., executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.

"All of these cuts and changes will undermine landlord willingness to participate in the Section 8 program," the letter said.

Roberta Sawtelle, a Quincy landlord who has a Section 8 tenant, said she is unable to cover her own mortgage without the full rent payments.

 "I can weather the storm for one month, but if July comes around and they can't pay, I'll have to find someone who can pay rent," said Sawtelle, a single parent. "I don't want to be mean, but what can I do?"

Landlords and tenants have been on edge since late last month, when the Quincy Housing Authority held a public meeting to discuss the budget problems. A notice the housing authority sent last month discussed long-term concerns, saying even if the federal government authorizes money for June rent payments, that doesn't address funding reductions it is facing in the next fiscal year, which begins in July.

"We still need to do a further study," Loud said. "We've been taking one crisis at a time."

Suzanne Fareri-Early, a Quincy resident who receives a Section 8 housing voucher, said she is grateful for her housing subsidy, which has helped provide a stable home for her four children.

Fareri-Early, a substitute teacher in Boston, said her landlord has indicated that she would need to pay the full rent if the Quincy Housing Authority continues to fall short. She said the funding crisis has put tenants and landlords in an untenable situation.

"If I think about losing Section 8, it's just too much," she said. "I don't know how I would make it."
 
Jenn Abelson can be reached at abelson (at) globe.com.

**********

Click below for the latest batch of stories nationwide to follow the Section 8 Disaster.

http://www.indybay.org/news/2004/06/1686041.php
 

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