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12 23Fri09192014

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Back Local News No rent money for Section 8 families due to shutdown

No rent money for Section 8 families due to shutdown

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AS THE budget stalemate in Washington drags on this week, if it does not end next week, the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority will not be able to provide rent assistance to 2,300 low-income families next month, the agency’s executive director, Michael Duenas, said yesterday.

The housing agency is due to pay 1,000 Section 8 renters $2.6 million for November.

Unless the federal budget impasse is resolved soon or a workable stopgap is put in place, Guam is likely to see a spike in the homeless count.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released the Section 8 funds to cover the payments for October rent vouchers earlier this month, Duenas said.

“At this point, we don’t have any money for the Section 8 program. Basically, what HUD told us was that they don’t have the authority to disburse funds for the month of November,” the housing chief said.

Washington has entered into the second week of a partial government shutdown with no immediate resolution in sight. The budget standstill is likely to be prolonged by a new conflict over raising the nation’s borrowing cap.

“I assure the community that we are monitoring the development in Congress,” Duenas said. “We are also trying to communicate with our folks at HUD to see what other alternatives are out there.”

The Section 8 crisis will be on top of the GHURA board’s agenda when it meets Wednesday next week.

“We will be making recommendations to the board during the meeting and if there is no resolution to the budget impasse by next week, we will start notifying the families and the landlords,” Duenas said. “The landlords will have to make a decision if they are willing to wait until Congress passes the budget.”

No impact

Although the Section 8 program is on the brink of a crisis, most of GHURA’s federally funded programs are not affected by the federal shutdown.

“We are operating on grants that have been appropriated for program year 2013,” Duenas said.

The impact of last year’s federal sequestration, however, has trickled down to GHURA in terms of reduced amount of federal grants.

According to the Office of Public Accountability’s audit released in July, GHURA ended fiscal 2012 with a decrease in net assets of $4.5 million, primarily due to the considerable decline in total subsidies and grants.

Grants and subsidies to the agency dropped by $23.2 million compared to $73.1 million for the prior year.

GHURA also experienced an overall decline in operating revenues down by $21.2 million, and expenditures decreased by $17.6 million during the year, the OPA said.

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