Low-Income Affordable Housing At Risk As Shutdown Continues

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As the longest partial shutdown of the U.S. government in history continues, low-income families – including the elderly and disabled – face eviction scares as affordable housing funding for assistance programs such as Section 8 begins to run out.

According to the Huffington Post, renters in select states are already facing threats of eviction from landlords as the shutdown has cut off funding to the federal rental assistance program that chipped in a portion of their rent.

“Until the government opens again, you are responsible for ALL of your rental amount,” a property manager penned in a letter to tenants in the state of Arkansas.

The director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Diane Yentel, said she found it “appalling” that landlords were already threatening tenants with eviction because of the shutdown.

She, however, also recognizes the blame possibly falls on Trump’s administration who currently refuses to sign any government funding bill that doesn’t include the funding for the border wall.

“It is incredibly reckless to risk the homes of some of our country’s poorest seniors, people with disabilities and families with children as perceived leverage for a fight that has nothing to do with them.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports over 1,000 contracts within the Section 8 housing program have already expired, another 500 expire this month, and another 550 expire next month. In total, the contracts affect approximately 40,000 low-income households across the United States.

Two-thirds of the individuals affected by this include individuals who are elderly or disabled with an annual income of less than $13,000, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities goes on to report.

Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and West Virginia are the only four states that do not have Section 8 housing contracts that have already expired or are close to expiring.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has asked landlords participating in the program not to evict tenants and encouraged them to dip into their reserve funds to cover necessary expenses.

“The longer the shutdown goes on, the more untenable it becomes for owners to keep scraping by without the federal funds they’re expecting ― and the more likely it becomes that those owners will start resorting to rent hikes or evictions of these lowest-income renters, as we are now seeing,” Diane Yentel added.

If the U.S. government shutdown does not conclude before February ends, there will be no additional funding for the Section 8 housing program. This puts all participants of the program at risk of eviction when March rent is due.

The Section 8 program isn’t the only low-income assistance service at risk as the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – which provides food stamp benefits to millions of low-income households across the United States – will also be unable to fund March payments.