[Hpn] [Vermont] Housing agencies face another cut

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@gmail.com
Fri, 21 May 2004 14:35:23 -0400


Following the below forwarded news article are some related links fyi.

Morgan <norsehorse@gmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
Norsehorse's Home Turf:
http://norsehorses-turf.blogspot.com

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Friday, May 21, 2004
Barre - Montpelier Times Argus & Rutland Herald
[Vermont] Housing agencies face another cut
http://www.timesargus.com/04/CentralVermont/Story/83969.html


By Brent Curtis 

RUTLAND HERALD 

Housing authorities around the state were informed by federal
regulators this week that they would have to do without as much as 19
percent of their Section 8 housing administration budgets.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sent memos to
Vermont's 10 local housing authorities and the Vermont State Housing
Authority on Tuesday that detailed deep and unexpected cuts to the
administrative portion of Section 8 housing voucher programs.

The vouchers are among the primary tools used by housing agencies to
help those in need pay rents, especially the disabled and elderly, who
account for 64 percent of the 6,100 vouchers issued in the state.

Richard Williams, executive director of the state Housing Authority,
said administrative cuts had been expected this year, but in the area
of 2 percent to 3 percent.

The reduction his office learned about Tuesday amounts to more than a
14 percent drop or $262,000 of the $1.8 million administrative budget
for the program.

"This is going to have a definite impact on the program," said
Williams, whose office administers 3,100 of the vouchers issued in the
state and is managing a waiting list of applicants nearly as long.

At the Burlington Housing Authority, the largest local housing
authority in the state, executive director Paul Dettman said his
office is trying to figure out how to function with the 18 percent cut
HUD made to their budget.

The cuts, which are retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year, will sap
$106,000 from the administrative budget by June 30, Dettman said and
will claim another $200,000 of his $1 million administrative budget in
fiscal year 2005.

"It's a very big number and it's very difficult being retroactive
because we've already made so many expenses," he said. "It was a
shock. We were prepared for a 2 percent to 3 percent cut this year,
but the reality is we can't administer the program the way we have
with cuts this deep."

Dettman said the 14 employees at his office who are dedicated to
administering the Section 8 program use the federal money to
administer the 1,700 vouchers his office has issued and to check on
the eligibility of the 1,000 people currently on their waiting list
for a voucher.

He said the cuts could force administrators to cut staff, close access
to the waiting list and slow the process.

"We might not be able to do everything that we're supposed to do," he
said. "I don't know how anyone can expect us to do the same job with
an 18 percent reduction to our budget."

In smaller housing authorities, like the one in Bennington, executive
director Deborah Reed said there wouldn't be any layoffs among her
four employees, but she said her agency might close its waiting list
to new applicants.

"We want to be able to hand out any new vouchers we get and those on
the waiting list will probably be waiting much longer to get them now
if they can get them at all," she said.

The administrative cuts also served to compound housing advocates
fears that HUD and the Bush administration are trying to deconstruct
the Section 8 program.

HUD's proposed 2005 budget contains $1.6 billion in cuts that would
mean the loss of up to $4.3 million in vouchers in Vermont. Housing
officials have said those cuts could cost 740 families and individuals
their housing vouchers.

Last year, the administration proposed packaging the section 8
vouchers as block grants that would be handed to state's to administer
without federal oversight. However, housing officials around the state
have said that the program would inevitably lose money through the
approach because the block grants wouldn't keep up with housing demand
and costs.

The U.S. House and Senate voted down the block grant proposal. 

"The administration is trying to accomplish administratively what it's
been unable to do politically," Dettman said.

Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., said he took HUD Secretary Alphonso
Jackson to task for the administration's cuts during a meeting of the
House Housing Subcommittee Thursday.

Sanders, who spoke Wednesday with housing authority officials in
Vermont, said he hopes to rally other federal legislators to force the
administration to reverse its direction.

"I think what the Bush administration's position is an absolute
outrage," he said Thursday. "My goal is to do everything I can to make
sure Vermont and other states don't suffer these cuts. If enough
members of Congress stand up, we can make them change their policy.
I'm not unoptimistic that we can do it."

Contact Brent Curtis at brent.curtis@rutlandherald.com. 

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Related blog posts:

[Hpn] Section 8 op-ed by Nancy Pelosi:
http://norsehorses-turf.blogspot.com/2004/05/hpn-section-8-op-ed-by-nancy-pelosi.html

National Housing Justice Memorial Day: May 26, 2004:
http://norsehorses-turf.blogspot.com/2004/05/national-housing-justice-memorial-day.html


For additional information, go to:

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
http://www.hud.gov/

Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA):
http://www.vsha.org/

Congressman Bernie Sanders, I - VT:
http://bernie.house.gov

Bernie Sanders' Press Release (5/20/2004):
Sanders Blasts Bush's Housing Secretary on Housing Cuts in Vermont:
http://bernie.house.gov/documents/releases/20040520150051.asp

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Morgan <norsehorse@gmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
Norsehorse's Home Turf:
http://norsehorses-turf.blogspot.com