Section 8 Housing Plan On Hold – QNS.com

Section 8 Housing Plan On Hold

A new formula proposed by the Bush administration that would have been used to calculate rent assistance for most of the 110,000 families in New York City participating in the Section 8 housing voucher program will now not be implemented, due to strong bipartisan pressure in Washington.
The rent formula proposed by the White House Department of Housing and Urban Development would have averaged out higher rents in urban areas with those of suburban areas, which tend to be of lower cost, to calculate so-called "fair-market rents." Under the Section 8 program, tenants pay 30 percent of their income as rent, and the federal government pays the landlord the rest, up to the level of fair market for the area.
But critics contend that the proposed formula change by the administration would have the effect of lowering fair rents in many urban areas and could force many of the 2 million poor, elderly or disabled families who avail of government housing vouchers to pay more of the rent on their own, find new substandard apartments or even become homeless.
"To lump New York City and the suburbs together in figuring out the Section 8 rents made no sense, and I’m glad that HUD is reversing itself," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, in a statement to the press on Monday. "But the devil is in the details, and given HUDs hostility to Section 8, we have to look at those details before breathing a sigh of relief."
According to the New York City Housing Authority, as of August 2004 there were 7,877 Queens residents participating in the voucher program.
Although the new formula proposed by the White House was hastily shelved on Monday, many officials and housing groups still remain wary, because of what they call a concerted effort by the Bush administration to reduce spending on Section 8. To many observers, the sudden postponement may amount to a stay of execution until after the national elections.
Section 8 has been the subject of lengthy funding debates between the Bush administration, which contends that costs must be contained, and congressional Democrats and advocacy groups who argue the government is intentionally under-funding the program.
E-mail this reporter at cahir@queenscourier.com

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