With the federal government reopened through at least Feb. 15, the Sonoma County Housing Authority is able to fund rental assistance payments for programs financed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through May 31, 2019.
“We’re glad we can continue to provide this much-needed assistance through the end of May, and hopefully after,” said Margaret Van Vliet, executive director of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission, which oversees the Housing Authority. “Because the reopening is temporary, we’re monitoring the situation closely. We’re doing everything we can to keep these programs – which serve approximately 3,000 low-income families in Sonoma County – running smoothly.”
The short-term federal spending bill passed Friday evening provides HUD funding for Sonoma County’s Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 program through April 31. Should the government fail to reach a budget agreement before the current agreement expires on Feb. 15, the Housing Authority will continue making scheduled payments through May 31, using reserve funds as necessary.
The Sonoma County Housing Authority receives approximately $3 million each month for HUD-funded rental assistance programs, which include Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and several other project-based programs. According to Housing Authority Manager Martha Cheever, Sonoma County doesn’t always use the full amount it’s eligible to receive, often due to a shortfall in available rentals.
“We use about $2.5 million each month, as voucher recipients, available rental units and other factors inevitably shift,” said Cheever. “The remaining funds are held in reserves, which we would attempt to access if a federal budget agreement isn’t reached by Feb. 15. But we’re hoping it doesn’t come to that.”
While reopening the federal government is a positive step, the federal budget remains uncertain. Van Vliet stressed the importance of protecting those who rely on these programs and vowed that the Housing Authority would keep participants informed. “We understand that it’s stressful to live with this level of uncertainty, but we ask for the public’s patience while we navigate these uncharted waters together,” she added.
For more information, contact Janelle Wetzstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 604-6632.