There are 179 households in the Grand Traverse region whose heads receive Section 8 housing vouchers from the Housing Commission. The commission spends roughly $85,000 in Section 8 money monthly.
Honson said public housing cuts are likely, as well. She expects the impact on public housing recipients will be less dramatic because the commission can dip into its financial reserves if necessary.
“We have about 300 families overall who are going to feel a pinch, some more so than others,” Honson said. “Our public housing residents are not going to feel the cuts like our Section 8 participants.”
Melodie Linebaugh, homeless programs manager for the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, said she’s also fielded calls this week from frightened people who receive Section 8 vouchers.
“They were panicked,” Linebaugh said. “One person got served at 3 a.m. ... they interpreted it as if they were going to lose their housing.”
Linebaugh said if Section 8 vouchers are scaled back, “the number of homeless people or people at risk of homelessness will increase. There’s no doubt about it.”
Landlords are also concerned. Geoff Robinson is a property manager for KMG Prestige and oversees 12 different apartment complexes in the Grand Traverse region. He said cuts could affect roughly 10 households out of 80 at Boardman Lake Apartments.
“It’s going to be extremely hard for them to pay their full rental rate without the assistance,” Robinson said.
U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, whose congressional district includes the Traverse City area, said he supports spending cuts, but the way reductions are being enacted makes no sense to him. He said government bureaucracy should be trimmed before the neediest see reductions in benefits.
“I think the whole thing is ridiculous,” Benishek said. “I just think there could have been much better planning. This has been going on since August 2011.”
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s office issued a written statement regarding the Section 8 cuts in Traverse City in which she said she’s “very concerned about the effect these cuts will have on middle-class families and Michigan’s economic recovery, which is why I voted for a balanced alternative that would have cut programs we don’t need while maintaining top priorities that are critical to Michigan.”