Local housing official clarifies statements
In The Inter-Mountain’s article of June 8, I was misrepresented as being “unaware” of a rumored trend regarding our local Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. In fact, what I was asked was whether I had heard that housing authorities in Virginia were advising people to apply for rental assistance here due to the sequester. (And, to my knowledge, this is not the case.)
However, this article implies that I’m unaware that people from out-of-state have applied for, and received, rental assistance from our agency in the recent past. Furthermore, I thought I was being interviewed about the effects of sequester cuts, as per your headline, not a different topic, regarding out-of-state applications for assistance.
Until last year, it was uncommon for out-of-state residents to apply for the program with the intention of moving back to their local area. For most of 2012 (well before the sequester) our agency took applications for assistance from hundreds of households, a small number of which were from out of state.
Non-residents that were eligible and met our criteria were given vouchers in accordance with federal requirements. The voucher is portable, meaning that after one year, the assisted household is free to move to another residence, town or state. In the application process, some of the out-of-state applicants were open in their interest to move back home as soon as they could, with the voucher.
Frankly, I would prefer that all of the HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) housing assistance payments were made to the 200-plus local landlords in our five-county region; however, we have to manage this federal program according to its portability rules. Whether this is a “trend” or not is debatable – it happened during one application period and represented just 3 percent of all the households we assisted that year. Please note that the agency stopped taking applications last December and it is uncertain when the waiting list will re-open; it may not be until 2014.
Other than the clarifications above, I thought The Inter-Mountain did a good job reporting on the Section 8 program and sequester cuts and I always appreciate the opportunity to provide information about our programs and services to the public.