Columbia Housing Authority Faces Additional Budget Cuts
COLUMBIA - On March 1, the Columbia Housing Authority or CHA received some bad news. CEO Phil Steinhaus learned the housing authority would face a big cut in funding, thanks to the federal sequestration.
The budget cuts will decrease administrative funding. In 2013, CHA will receive only 68.5 percent of what it's used to seeing in federal funding for administrative fees. It also discovered it will only receive 82 percent of what would be ideal for the authority to function.
"That's difficult for us because we have not been fully funded in the past so we've been subject to federal budget cuts all along here. So, this is just an additional deeper cut than the cut we were already receiving," Steinhaus said.
These deep cuts create many changes for the CHA. Steinhaus said he's not able to pay employees as much as he would like, and some open positions must remain unfilled.
Steinhaus said due to the budget cuts, the CHA will have to cut 70 families out of the housing choice voucher program. He said people will have to stay on the waiting list for a lot longer than usual because the waiting list will freeze due to the cuts.
"This is the largest waiting list we have had for our housing choice voucher program. We took 1,500 names in 2012. We took 1,200 names in 2010. We only had the list open for a week, we anticipate that will probably take about two years to move through that whole list," Steinhaus said.
Steinhaus explained that the Columbia Housing Authority is looking ahead by creating new partnerships with local programs in order to help those in the housing choice voucher program become self-sufficient.
"Housing is such a basic need, but unless we give people a way out of poverty, just putting a roof over their heads isn't quite enough. So, if we are going to spend an average of nine to ten thousand dollars per family, per year and put a roof over their head, then we want to make sure we connect them with the other resources in our community that help them develop plans for self-sufficiency."
Nationally, the cuts will impact about 125,000 families who live in public housing.