Thousands of Massachusetts residents are losing housing assistance as a result of the sequester, which took effect in March. The Boston Housing Authority has had to stop issuing new rental subsidy vouchers to low income residents. For the state’s third largest housing authority — Springfield — the impact isn’t as immediate, but those in the industry are having to consider how cuts could affect the region.
Federally funded section eight vouchers help low income individuals and families pay for privately owned apartments. If cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development are not restored in this year’s budget, Executive Director of the Springfield Housing Authority — William Abrashkin — says about 140,000 households across the country stand to lose that support. He says the Springfield Housing Authority has enough money to fund its twenty five hundred voucher recipients for another six months.
“After that we will not be able to issue new vouchers. So the waiting list for people who are seeking vouchers which is many years now — can even range up to ten years — that waiting list will become endless.”
Director of the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness — Pamela Schwartz — says section 8 vouchers are already in such short supply she often encourages those seeking housing assistance to look into other options. But she says any cuts to housing programs can prevent those who were once homeless from moving towards independence.
“They enable families to focus on their work life and their advancement in their professional lives in maintaining jobs and moving up professional ladders so that their income reaches a place where they can get off the subsidies.”
The state Department of Housing and Community Development administers about 20,000 vouchers each year and currently has a waiting list of about 80,000.