Shutdown could have affected Sec. 8 landlords

The Warren County Housing Authority has finished its proposed 2014 budget for a required Dec. 1 filing. It can expect a response from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by next September or October.

This year’s budget, which was filed last December, has still not been approved by HUD because of the recent government shutdown. Tonya Mitchell-Weston, the authority’s executive director, said the shutdown has not affected the authority in other matters, but if the government hadn’t restarted by Thursday, the authority would not have had money for its share of Section 8 funding for rental co-payments.

She noted the tenants may not be evicted for the failure of HUD to make the funds available, and the landlords will probably be upset.

Mary Mundt, the housing voucher coordinator, said, “We will not be taking any new Section 8 applications, although we will be processing and reviewing existing applications.”

For other matters involving the shutdown, Mitchell-Weston said, “So far, we’re good.” She added that other housing authorities are not in such good shape, noting Venango County’s authority was shut down permanently, and others are in trouble.

Tracey Kranak, authority financial director, said she is basing the 2014 budget on a 75 percent subsidy, but that could change depending on the sequestration cuts and the subsidy proration by HUD. She said a projected loss in 2014 will be made up by using reserve funding.

Mitchell-Weston said she anticipates the subsidy to level out at around 89 to 90 percent of the budget.

Kranak reported dwelling income received by the authority was almost $50,000 more than was budgeted for last year, although with some costs higher or lower than expected, they are close to breaking even.

She also said that reserve funds were high enough in 2012 that HUD cut funding that year to zero. “It’s horrible to have your fingers slapped for being good stewards of money,” she said.

Mitchell-Weston said that occupancy was over 95 percent for the last seven months, as opposed to 68 percent one year ago.

She noted that work on renovations at the Conewango Towers on Oak Street will begin in mid-December.

She also announced that she has been nominated to serve as vice president of the Western Pennsylvania Housing Directors Association.

Several board members have resigned or retired, or will in the near future, and qualified replacements will be sought.

Frank Wilcox suggested annual tours of the various authority housing units be arranged for board members, allowing them to see the current status, and Mitchell-Weston said it was an excellent idea.