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New: Budget cuts are stealing hope from the poor

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  • Lynda Carson
    Published on Indy Bay News Wire... https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/08/05/18740986.php [[[Low-income tenants in the Section 8 housing choice voucher
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2013
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      Published on Indy Bay News Wire...

      https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/08/05/18740986.php


      [[[Low-income
      tenants in the Section 8 housing choice voucher program can expect to
      pay a higher portion of their income for rent, as well as being placed
      at risk of losing their housing vouchers due a second round of
      sequestration budget cuts that are scheduled to go into effect during
      the beginning of October, for FY 2014!]]]

      Budget cuts are stealing hope from the poor

      By Lynda Carson - August 5, 2013

      Berkeley
      - Massive federal budget cuts are stealing hope from the poor, elderly
      and disabled. As evidence of this horrific trend, in recent months
      during 2013 the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) notified 14 households
      that their Section 8 housing choice vouchers have been suspended until
      further notice. The BHA also served notice to around 200 additional
      households in the final stages of being eligible to receive Section 8
      vouchers, that their applications for vouchers have also been suspended
      until further notice.

      With $1.7 million in budget cuts hitting
      the BHA in 2013 plus an additional loss of $386,000 in administrative
      fees to run it's housing programs, the BHA also estimates that an
      additional 74 households may lose their Section 8 housing vouchers
      during 2014.

      Low-income families in the Section 8 program pay 30
      to 40 percent of their income in rent each month, and the rest of the
      rent is paid to the landlord by the federal program.

      Nearby,
      during FY 2013 the Oakland Housing Authority also faced a budget cut of
      $11 million, and with Congress going on vacation last week until late
      September, it nearly guarantees that the next round of sequestration
      budget cuts totaling around $110 billion in automatic
      across-the-board spending cuts will occur during the beginning of
      October, when FY 2014 begins.

      The additional $110 billion in
      automatic across-the-board spending cuts set to begin in October will
      eventually be a great hardship for low-income households in Oakland, and
      may result in the further loss of stable housing for the poor, elderly
      and disabled throughout the City, and across the nation. Already it's
      estimated that 125,000 households across the nation may be at risk of
      losing their Section 8 housing vouchers due to the first round of
      sequestration budget cuts that began on March 1, 2013.

      Making
      matters worse, the House and Senate recently failed to pass a federal
      budget for FY 2014 that would have funded the nation's federal housing
      programs through the latest Transportation, Housing and Urban
      Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations bill.

      With
      regards to budget cuts for some other local housing authorities
      during 2013, it was also reported that the Santa Clara Housing
      Authority faced a budget cut of $21 million. The San Francisco Housing
      Authority faced a budget cut of $9.4 million. The Contra Costa Housing
      Authority faced a budget cut of $7.2 million. The Alameda County Housing
      Authority faced a budget cut of $5.8 million, plus the San Mateo County
      Housing Authority faced a budget cut of $3.6 million.

      With the
      on-going massive budget cuts continuing locally and throughout the
      nation's federal housing programs, housing authorities across the nation
      are stepping up their efforts to detect fraud or some kind of
      wrong-doing occurring in the Section 8 program and public housing
      program, as a way to dump the poor from their housing programs in
      response to the budget cuts.

      Recently, a local Section 8
      household was threatened for having guests stay in their household. A
      notice sent out to a Section 8 household from a local housing authority
      warned the household that they may be dumped from the program for
      having any guests stay with them for over 30 days, or a total of 90
      cumulative calendar days during any 12 month period. This includes
      relatives visiting from out of town that may have brought numerous
      children with them while making a visit. As an example, 3 people
      visiting for 3 days shall constitute 9 of the 90 allowable days a
      Section 8 household may have guests stay with them during any 12 month
      period. Violation of these or other rules may result in a Section 8
      household being dumped from the program.

      Additionally, the U.S.
      Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is making an effort to
      get reimbursed if a housing authority makes payments to landlords with
      substandard housing for Section 8 tenants.

      As an example, during
      2012 HUD's Office of Inspector General (OIG) completed a review of the
      Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) in response to a hotline complaint.
      In one instance they found indications that 13 of 19 housing units
      inspected did not meet housing quality standards, and that 8 of those
      units were in material noncompliance, resulting in the OHA paying
      $28,508 in Section 8 program fees to owners of housing units that were
      not decent, safe and of standard quality. The OIG recommended that the
      OHA should reimburse it's Section 8 program from non-Federal funds if
      the 8 units have not been brought up to housing quality standards.

      As
      an another example of going after a tenant for fraud, during July of
      2013 in Mansfield, Ohio, it was reported that Section 8 tenant Danette
      Stevenson was accused of allegedly stealing more than $14,000 in funds
      while she was in the Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly called the
      Section 8 program). She faces sentencing for accepting funding while
      she was not eligible to receive funding, in addition to being dumped
      from the program.

      In Baltimore during July
      of 2013, it was also reported that landlord Daren Kareem Gadsen was
      convicted and faces 30 years in prison, plus a $1 million fine for
      ripping off $1.4 million from the Section 8 housing choice voucher
      program in that City. Tyeast Brown, William Darden, and Keith Daughtry
      also pleaded guilty for having a role in that scheme.

      On-going
      budget cuts continue to steal hope from the poor, and with problems such
      as fraud allegedly occurring in the nation's federal housing programs
      there is less funding available for those that are in need, and eligible
      for federal housing assistance.

      Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule@...

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