February 12, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 7

News

Low-income renters in Snohomish County receive letter of reprieve

By Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Reporter

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Good news for Section 8 renters in Snohomish County: The Housing Authority of Snohomish County informed 500 of its clients that they can keep their housing subsidy after all.

In January, the Housing Authority sent letters to its clients informing them that they could lose a federal rental subsidy that enables them to afford market-rate housing. The Housing Authority had anticipated having to stop providing them with Section 8 vouchers if the federal government did not provide adequate funding to maintain the program.

The same clients received new letters, sent Feb. 6, stating that the budget is stable and that the Housing Authority does not anticipate cutting anyone off in 2014. But even with this good news, the Housing Authority could not guarantee what will happen in 2015.

“[D]ue to large federal deficits and the uncertainty of future federal budgets, it is unclear what will happen with the Section 8 program next year or in the future,” the letter said.

Still, housing authorities in Washington are faring better now since Congress passed its $19.2 billion Section 8 budget in January; it was just short of the $20 billion President Obama requested.

The budget was enough for local housing authorities to be able to maintain their clients, and in some cases, start issuing vouchers to the thousands of people on waiting lists around the region.

The King County Housing Authority announced in early February that it would begin issuing vouchers again for the first time since the spring of 2013.

“We’re breathing a huge sigh of relief,” King County Housing Authority Spokesperson Rhonda Rosenberg said.

Housing authorities still struggle to meet the demand. In Seattle and King County, housing authorities hold lotteries to bring people onto their waiting lists, typically accepting one person out of every 10 eligible applicants.

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