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Sequestration: Cuts to Montgomery County's Housing Authority

Part Three of a Four-Part Series: How budget cuts may impact the housing authority.

As Democrats point fingers to the Republicans and Republicans point fingers at the Democrats, the one thing not happening in Congress is the stoppage of sequester. As it stands, the impact of the changes will begin as early as midnight on Thursday.

But how will this change impact those in Montgomery County? Another hard-hit department may be that of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Joel Johnson, executive director of the Montgomery County Housing Authority knows this fact all too well. Funded through the U.S. Department HUD, his department’s funding is in jeopardy with the fiscal year only half over.

“We receive four monies from four pots,” said Johnson. “Depending on Congressional allocation, the amounts vary.”

Two types of funding, Johnson said, fall under the voucher program.

To read part one of the series on the impact of county offices, click here.

To read part two on the impact to county seniors, click here.

“That is federal rent subsidization, utilized by households in the private marketplace,” said Johnson. In other words, privately-owned and –operated landlords can receive the rent.

“One big line item is for rent money, on behalf of program participants,” said Johnson. “A second line item is administration fees, paid for to staff and administer the programs.”

The other two “pots” of money support rental units owned and operated by the housing authority.

Of top concern with sequestration, Johnson said, would be cuts to the voucher program.

“It seems sequestration could have an impact of perhaps around 35 percent on the administration fee side that could be cut out of the budget,” he said. “On the rent-to-owner side, we could be impacted by probably 8 percent.”

Johnson is worried about the impact on his staff.

“On the administration side, we are carefully looking at our operation, we always have been very careful to function efficiently,” he said. “We’ll just have to be more careful moving forward.”

He hopes to prevent layoffs.

“We are hoping with some reserve funding, we are able to avoid short-term impacts on our staff,” said Johnson.

The Montgomery County residents that rely on the program, however, may not be as lucky.

“Under the voucher program, 2,600 participate in the county, all over the county,” said Johnson. “We are present in 90 percent of the 62 municipalities with our voucher program.”

He said 57 municipalities have 2,600 active leases, serving that many households with support.

“These are families with children, elderly, disabled,” said Johnson.

While the department has not yet gotten word on actual cuts, Johnson said he has been following trade organizations’ takes on the change.

“The impact could be up to a 25 percent reduction on the public housing operating fund,” he said. “Money comes from Congress to operate HUD.”

The county’s housing authority operates seven locations in the county, with 615 total public housing units.

Until Congress breaks down the reductions, the department will remain unsure of its future, but will try to create the smallest impact on its residents as possible.

“A cut would be on the operating subsidy, the money we get to operate the building,” said Johnson. “We have no plans on closing any [of the housing locations], we’d scale back some services.”

To read part one of the series on the impact of county services, visit this link.

To read part two of the series on the impact to area seniors, visit this link.

fiscal_sanity February 28, 2013 at 01:27 PM
even with the cuts we are still spending more than last year. Example: your boss gives you a raise from $10/hr to $15hr but then says he can only give you $14/hr. If you're owebama you then complain that you can't feed your children, pay mortgage, etc even though you're getting more than last year!
Lee February 28, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Geez, the headlines here again assume the worst. Any company any gov agency has to be able to cut 2% of its budget to survive. This is nothing, but it appears harmful because of where the President's people are allowing the cuts to be taken - where they public relations wise scare people. I understand Dems wanting to be devoted to their ideals and leaders, but have Dems in our area recoginized that their party is Progressive and following the ideals of Communitarianism? Just asking. I believe most of the big Repubs are in on this, as they have much to gain despite what happens. It is quite evil what has been going on, I will include our misguided attempt at democratizing Iraq/Afghan. We have wolves in sheeps clothing running our world. Even here in little Montco we have commissioners who seem so eloquent and wonderful frankly, but they have been trained at the Aspen Institute which is progressive central. All of our young are being conditioned too through volunteerism, which also sounds so lovely and gracious. You will never hear any focus on the individual and his pursuits again in schools with the Common Core curricula. sorry to go on.
Stephen Eickhoff February 28, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Tammi, the only difference between allowing the tax cuts to expire and signing off on a tax hike is that one is passive and one is not. If Bush's tax cuts had, like nearly every other income tax rate change in history, been a permanent change, then Obama would have needed to sign off on a bill to raise them. Since they weren't permanent, he could just stall and make demands long enough to allow them to expire. If a person's tax rate goes from 35.5 to 39, that's an increase! It doesn't matter how it happened to the American taxpayer who is now poorer.
Judith E. Levy February 28, 2013 at 07:49 PM
I do hope that ALL Federal employees are affected by the big 'S'! I do mean Representatives and Senators!
tiredoftheviolence March 01, 2013 at 03:00 PM
They are making cuts to the increase only. The amount of funds that are already being spent is not changing, the proposed additional funding is. What I don't get is, we are a nation in trouble and they are talking about all these problems that we are going to face and the government just sent millions to Syria??

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