New: Budget cuts are stealing hope from the poor
- Published on Indy Bay News Wire...
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
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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