Glendale plans to counter Section 8 housing cuts

Glendale housing officials plan to tap reserves in order to save an estimated 112 households from losing affordable housing vouchers as a result of the across-the-board federal spending cuts known as sequestration.

City officials expect to lose at least $1 million in Section 8 money due to the automatic budget cuts, which would affect about 4% of the roughly 3,050 voucher recipients living in Glendale were it not for the reserves.

"All the housing authorities are going through this," said Deputy Housing Director Peter Zovak after a City Hall meeting this week about the program.

Glendale's Housing Authority leverages multiple funding sources to support affordable housing in the city, from new development projects to rental subsidies. It has about $3.5 million in reserves, which have been tapped in the past to cover federal shortfalls.

The federal vouchers of between $50 and $700 a month subsidize rent in the private market for households that meet annual income restrictions that range from $17,950 for a single person to $42,700 for a family of four.

Even as the city takes steps to maintain the current number of vouchers, there are roughly 2,500 households on the waiting list, which has been closed since 2001. While the city was able to move 75 households off the list late last year due to an 8.5% boost in federal funding, or $1 million, the list is now frozen and officials don't expect that to change for some time.

Even if some leave the Section 8 program, whether voluntarily because of improved income or forcibly because of fraud, those extra vouchers won't be doled out because the city is operating at a deficit.

Officials aim to reduce the program through attrition by about 100 households to balance the budget. About 10 households a month leave the program, Zovak said.

In addition, a recent increase in Social Security benefits may help the city's bottom line. Due to the increased income for seniors, who make up a large portion of Section 8 recipients in Glendale, the city can then reduce some subsidies, slightly driving down expenditures.

"Every little bit helps," Zovak said.


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