No new Section 8 housing vouchers, thanks to the sequester
A number of public service programs will be affected by the 6 percent cuts to federal spending under the federal sequester that began March 1.
Community housing programs are bracing for the loss in funding. The King County Housing Authority (KCHA) stopped issuing Section 8 vouchers to the thousands of families on the waiting list.
Section 8 vouchers are federal housing subsidies that enable low-income people to afford market-rate housing.
The waiting list for Section 8 vouchers in King County was capped at 2,500 applicants, though 25,000 people applied, said Rhonda Rosenburg of KCHA. Only one out of every 10 eligible applicants received a housing voucher.
The rest, she said, face dire circumstances: “It means that some of them will end up on the streets.”
KCHA currently assists approximately 11,000 households on any given night. Stephen Norman, executive director of the KCHA said these households will be paying the price for the failure of the nation’s leaders to solve the budget problems.
“Low-income families and individuals struggling with high unemployment in the aftermath of the recession or living on limited fixed incomes and dealing with rising housing costs should not be cut out of critical safety net programs because of gridlock in Washington, D.C.,” Norman said in a statement.
It’s not just a one-time hit. The federal sequester will result in 600 fewer families receiving essential housing help throughout the coming year, he said.
The blow to housing vouchers is coming at a time when homelessness is on the rise. A recent annual count of the city’s homeless shows an increase in people living on the streets of Seattle and King County from 2,594 last year to 2,736 this year.
Rosenburg predicts that, thanks to federal cuts, the number will go higher.
Housing vouchers aren’t the only programs taking a hit.
KCHA’s Public Housing Program will also see a decrease in funding, which will affect the public housing capital and the operating fund. This will impact KCHA’s ability to pay for needed housing repairs.
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