Section 8 Housing Impacted By Shutdown
TULSA, Oklahoma - While the partial government shutdown is affecting nearly 800,000 federal workers, those not working for the government are also feeling the pressure.
Many residents across the country on section 8 housing pay half their rent while government funds cover the rest, but they could soon be responsible for more if the shutdown continues much longer.
Right now, most people who live in section 8 housing here in Tulsa aren't panicking because the other half of their rent has been covered through February, but if the shutdown lasts into March, it could force organizations to dip into reserve funds or could cause evictions across the country.
"I don’t think we would really need to put people through these hardships but its politics -- not really the people that are the primary concern it seems in DC," said Mary Kay Salchert.
Salchert lives at Tamarack Place Apartments just off 60th and Peoria.
She says the complex sent out a letter yesterday saying they only had to pay their portion of February's rent and the other half would still be covered despite the government shutdown.
The letter also goes on to say, “We want everyone who is on housing to please understand that management has no intention of filing evictions in the upcoming months on residents whose subsidy portion has not been paid during the shutdown. Your portion, however, will be due on the 1st.”
"I was very relieved and grateful that we are only going to be held accountable for our part we routinely pay each month," said Salchert.
Tamarack Place receives government funding through the Oklahoma Housing Finance Authority.
OHFA released a statement saying, "despite the federal government shutdown, funds are available to make February Housing Assistance Payments."
However, if the government doesn't reopen before the end of February, the project based rental assistance program—also known as Section 8-- will no longer have funding.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development says it won't be able to renew contracts with private building owners—like Tamarack --which makes up nearly 40 percent of their units across the country for low income families, the elderly and people with disabilities.
"There’s a lot of disabled people in this part of town and you’ve got a lot of low income people around here so it’s a very genuine concern," said Salchert.
According to Housing and Urban Development, Project-based affordable Housing supports 1.4 million households and an additional 2.2 million use portable rental vouchers which are funded through March.
The Tulsa Housing Authority released a statement saying, “THA currently has sufficient funding to make housing assistance payments through February 2019. As long as the shutdown ends before March 1, 2019, our landlords participating in the Section 8 program should not see any direct impact from the government shutdown related to the Housing Choice Voucher payments. We will not be affected unless the shutdown lasts into March. At that point, THA will have to use reserves to fund operations in hopes of being reimbursed once the government opens.”
Salchert says she is thankful that her complex isn’t evicting residents for not being able to pay but feels sad for others who could face those consequences because of the shutdown.
“I think for other complexes, if their management has a different viewpoint for taking care of their people, then I think it would be extreme hardship,” said Salchert. “They take such good care of us here. I think it’s one of the better apartment complexes in the city.”
Housing and Urban Development says these contract expirations most likely won't lead to evictions and have asked landlords across the country to start dipping into reserve funds to help make the payments if necessary.
Thousands of other Oklahomans living in rural parts of the state could have trouble paying rent as well because of the shutdown.
The assistance they receive through the Department of Agriculture is also being impacted.
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