Sequestration impacts voucher program for housing
March 2, 2013 · 8:49 AM
Sequestration has impacted the county's voucher program for housing for low-income people. As of Friday, March 1, the King County Housing Authority has suspended issuance of Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers to families that have applied to the program and are its general waiting list. Sequestration is the automatic across-the-board budget cut that is hitting federal programs.
Each month, the housing authority typically reissues housing vouchers turned in by families no longer needed the subsidy to 45 to 50 elderly or disabled households, veterans, and families with children.
“Sequestration will result in some 600 fewer families in our local communities receiving crucial rental assistance over the next year," said Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority. "Because rents are so high, many of these families may, quite literally, find themselves out on the street as a result of these arbitrary budget cuts.”
The Section 8 program provides vouchers that enable the most vulnerable low-income families, including elderly and disabled individuals, to rent private apartments. The authority provides assistance to about 11,000 households on any given night.
A typical household has an average annual income of $13,327. Many of the families were already homeless, doubled-up or on the verge of becoming homeless when they received their voucher.
Although the housing authority is taking steps to assure that those already receiving vouchers are not in imminent danger of losing their housing, the authority’s ability to serve additional families has been all but eliminated. Funding cuts will impact the Housing Authority’s public housing program as well – delaying repairs to apartments and reducing management services.
“The longer this goes on, the more families will fall through the safety net,” said Norman. “The long-term cost to the community will grow.”