June 12, 2013

Section 8 At Stake in Sequestration


Crains New York reporter Matt Chaban reported on Sunday, June 9th, that efforts to get a budget carve-out for Section 8 seem to have failed. The article (found here) reports that HPD Commissioner Mat Wambua was in DC seeking the same kind of carve-out that air traffic controllers received after public protests and media coverage.  Commissioner Wambua is quoted as saying, “The discussion quickly shifted from reversing the cuts to managing them — and preventing more.”  As many as 6,000 certificates will not be issued this year and agencies are struggling to deal with the cuts in the program.

Section 8 rental subsidies are critical to rehabs like the West Farms project pictured above. UNHP worked with Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation to renovate these 8 buildings with 526 apartments and 438 of these apartments have Section 8 rental subsidy. A failure to address the sequester related cuts in the program will make it very difficult to repeat the West Farms success in other properties.

Section 8 recipients pay 30% of their income in rent and these subsidies make apartments affordable for many low income households across the country.  There are more than 150,000 vouchers in the City of New York.  A failure to resolve the budget sequester will result in deeper cuts and it raises the real possibility of Section 8 being taken away from some people currently receiving it.

This nightmare scenario has long been discounted as impossible.  However, the impasse in Washington and the sequester have upgraded the nightmare to a real possibility.  The obvious victims are the people on waiting lists who will not receive assistance due to the inability of the City to issue new vouchers; other potential victims include those currently receiving Section 8 who could lose their certificates in the near future.   Less immediately obvious is the impact on the living conditions for tenants living in buildings that may have reduced rental income due to the loss of the anticipated income from the Section 8 and the impact of reduced building income necessary to maintain the building and meet mortgage payments.

UNHP will be preparing a more detailed analysis to share with the groups and people with whom we work to try to call more attention to this serious issue.