SRHA trims voucher program

Published 9:11 pm Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority has cut staff hours on its Housing Choice Voucher program amid a significantly reduced budget for July through December.

Staff hours have been reduced indefinitely to 32 hours per week, members of the Board of Commissioners heard Tuesday during a presentation of what SRHA officials described as “a bare-bones budget.”

The Housing Voucher Program budget was among several spending plans commissioners approved Thursday. Others included budgets for the Development Division, Central Office Cost Center, the Finney Avenue Residence, Cypress Manor Apartments, Colander-Bishop Meadows, Chorey Park Apartments, Parker-Riddick Village and Hoffler Apartments.

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But the voucher program, receiving Section 8 funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, appears the hardest-hit.

Many line items are slashed — even taking into account it is only a six-month budget. A longer forecast was not tenable, because HUD has only confirmed funding through December, commissioners were told.

SRHA’s executive director, Clarissa McAdoo, has said the tight budget is the result of sequestration hitting HUD payments, along with rising fair-market rents, which are determined by HUD.

According to budget papers, officials also expect to dip into reserves through December to the tune of $175,000 to keep the program afloat, and applications have been frozen amid a long waiting list.

Salary costs are projected to fall to $54,762 for the six months, down from a projected $148,682 for all of fiscal 2013, budget papers state.

Meanwhile, the SRHA is trying to cut costs by culling from the program non-complying families and those not meeting obligations, and also by downsizing families that have shrunk into appropriately sized apartments.

While this process is ongoing, McAdoo cautioned against spending money upgrading security at the SRHA offices, which was briefly discussed at the meeting.

“It looks like we don’t care, and I don’t want to give that perception,” she said.