Housing Authority Spends on Projects Before Cuts

HAGERSTOWN, MD - Housing authorities are under the gun, facing the fiscal cliff with funding cuts set to go into effect in January. In Hagerstown, officials are hurrying to spend money, before the government takes it.

The housing authority is entering its busiest time of year, because they're now spending $2 million on the public housing project, so the government can't take it.

"Before Congress acts, we're going to spend the money," says Ted Shankle, executive director of the housing authority. "We would have normally done these projects over the next couple years, but we're doing them now because we're concerned about the fiscal cliff- but more importantly about the fiscal state of the government."

The Hagerstown Housing Authority is a model of efficiency. They saved $5 million to take on thousands of tenants over the years.

But the government took more than $900,000 of those savings this year for poorer housing authorities, and they expect that will happen again. Fiscal cliff cuts could take 8.2 percent of funding.

Projects include modernizing the heating and water systems at Potomac Towers, and modernizing the kitchens at Frederick Manor.

"I consider myself very fortunate that I do have what I have," says public housing tenant Wilbert Orndorfl. "There are a lot of people that don't have that."

The housing authority houses 14 percent of the population of Hagerstown.

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