Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

March 21, 2013

Section 8 cuts feared in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY — Ryan Volz lives on $710 a month.

He’s been hobbled for years by mental health and physical problems, and doles out his entire monthly Social Security check to pay bills. But Volz, 32, still manages to keep a quality apartment off Garfield Road, thanks to a federally funded housing voucher issued by the Traverse City Housing Commission.

He pays close to $200 a month for what’s normally a $600 per-month apartment.

“If it weren’t for (the voucher) I’d be out on the street, homeless and lose everything,” Volz said.

His days of receiving Section 8 housing may be numbered because of imminent sequester budget cuts in Washington, D.C. Last week, the Traverse City Housing Commission sent a letter to Section 8 recipients and their landlords to inform them cuts are likely.

“Pure fear,” Volz said of receiving the letter. “Scared out of my mind.”

Section 8 funds are monies allocated by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for rental housing for low-income families. The program is expected to be targeted as part of the government’s $85 billion in sequester cuts.

However, there was some indication Wednesday that the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were on the verge of a legislative compromise to help ease the pain of those cuts. The Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to soften the blow of the deficit cutbacks and the House was expected to follow suit, although it was not immediately clear if Section 8 housing cuts would be spared in the legislation.

Housing Commission Executive Director Ilah Honson said she’s received multiple calls from concerned recipients.

“We do not know how much money we are going to lose yet,” Honson said. “We won’t know that until the end of March, but we are giving all our landlords and participants a heads up, that this is something that could be happening very soon.”

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