Local Housing Authority Sees Effect of Government Shutdown

Local Housing Authority Sees Effect of Government Shutdown

“We have a housing self-sufficiency program, and we were right in the midst of the application process for new funding for 2014. With the government shutdown, that grant application process will come to a complete stop."
HAGERSTOWN, Md. - We've heard for days that a government shut down was coming, and now that it's happened, we're starting to see the real effects of what it means.

In Washington County, that includes cuts to services, including the housing authority.

The local housing authority here in Washington County says most employees with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, have been deemed "nonessential." Only those employees dealing directly with finances are essential workers.

"We rely upon HUD staff if we have a technical question, and we know they're not going to be there to answer our calls," Executive Director of Washington County Housing Authority Richard Willson said.

So what does that mean for families who rely on housing?

“The one thing that's struck me that will have an impact, is our effort to support families with housing coaches to work their way,” Willson said. “We have a housing self-sufficiency program, and we were right in the midst of the application process for new funding for 2014. With the government shutdown, that grant application process will come to a complete stop."

Section-8 tenants under the Washington County Housing Authority, and public housing under Hagerstown, are the people who could see changes.

Just not immediately.

"We are paid a little bit each month to administer the Section-8 program, and so we try to use those monies wisely. We employ our staff [and] we are very careful with how we spend the money. We have a little bit of flexibility," Willson said.

Willson says not until down the road, in 2014, will they have to turn people away for housing vouchers. The housing voucher program is what HUD will not provide to local housing authorities because of the Government shutdown.

However, Washington County has reserves for the voucher programs, keeping them valid for the time being.

Willson said they got their check Tuesday morning from HUD, but he’s not sure if that payment will continue. It all depends on how long the government shutdown lasts.

Willson says they're prepared to keep programs, like the Team Housing Coach program, running with saved funds.

Other departments and agencies here in Washington County, like the Health Department, are operating like normal. Again, if the government stays in shutdown mode for more than several weeks that's when things around here might change.
Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus