Housing authorities prepare for Section 8 housing cuts

by Lynda Carson

Oakland – Local housing authorities across the nation are preparing for major cuts to HUD’s Section 8 housing voucher programs (Housing Choice Voucher Program), after being directed in June by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to come up with lists to prioritize which voucher recipients would be dumped in the event of major cuts to the subsidized housing program.

There are over 3,000 public housing authorities across the nation serving over 2 million low-income households in the Section 8 voucher program.

Tens of thousands of low-income families across the nation face homelessness if HUD’s housing programs, including the Section 8 program, are cut any further, and the recent HUD notice telling PHAs to prepare lists of who should be dumped from their Section 8 programs is an ominous sign of a catastrophe in the making.

HUD’s housing programs were cut by around 14 percent during a round of major budget cuts last April, and it appears that an additional 6 percent or more in budget cuts may occur in the near future, to further shred the federal housing programs.

On July 29, it was reported from Cecil County, Maryland: “This is the first time the federal government has ever required us to change our administrative plan to indicate a priority list for voucher recipients. The HUD office is not saying this is going to happen, but they are saying we have to be prepared if it does happen. In the event we have to cut funding, I’m recommending the last to receive funding would be the first to get cut, but other options are available, including a lottery system or cutting the ones who been on the program the longest first,” said Dave Mahaney, director of housing and community development in Cecil County.

According to HUD, 75 percent of Section 8 vouchers are made available to families earning less than 30 percent of the area median income. The tenants have to pay 30 to 40 percent of their income towards rent, and the government subsidizes the rest of the rent payment to the landlords.

According to the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, 2,357,977 children, 303,499 seniors and 458,124 households that include a disabled member in the family are assisted by the Section 8 program. The seniors, with an annual median income of $9,594, or less represent 16 percent of all Section 8 households. The average income for a family in the Section 8 program is around $11,049.

Locally, the Oakland Housing Authority offers housing assistance to around 15,000 households in the Section 8 voucher program, representing approximately 10 percent of Oakland’s families.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule@yahoo.com.