TRAVERSE CITY — Recipients of Section 8 housing vouchers in northern Michigan can breathe a sigh of relief: No one is going to be cut off from the federal housing subsidy anytime soon.
Last month, Traverse City Housing Commission Executive Director Ilah Honson sent a letter to Section 8 recipients in the Traverse City area and warned that $85 billion in looming sequester cuts to the federal budget may cause some local Section 8 recipients to lose the subsidy.
Section 8 vouchers are monies allocated by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to help with rental housing costs for low-income families. Honson said Monday it now appears no one is going to lose the benefit because of sequestration cuts.
“We’ve received our preliminary numbers from HUD, and it appears that we will be okay,” Honson said. “It’s something we are going to have to monitor on a monthly basis.”
Mayor Michael Estes criticized Honson for sending the letter. He said it was premature and caused a panic among some of Traverse City’s most vulnerable citizens. Estes said the Housing Commission shouldn’t have sent the letter without knowing for sure whether the cuts would occur.
“Her letter was just totally inappropriate,” Estes said. “You don’t tell people who are very susceptible in a letter that they may be losing a means to support themselves.
“It’s very unfortunate and it should not have happened,” Estes said. “People should not be getting a letter that scares them to death.”
Honson declined comment on Estes’ comments. “I have not spoken with the mayor” about the letter, she said.