Moberly man worried government shutdown could make it harder to pay his rent

Posted on 23 January 2019 at 2:51pm

MOBERLY - Housing advocates said there is not enough money to fund housing vouchers if the government shutdown stretches into March.

That is what the North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC) said in a letter to beneficiaries of the program, also called "Section 8," in northeast Missouri. 

Evan Turner has been renting the house where he lives with his fiancée and her two children for 13 years. Through the Section 8 program, he receives assistance to pay part of his rent. 

Turner said the letter from NECAC was concerning.

"I was worried, worried thinking that we was going to lose the house, not knowing what was going to happen," he said. 

NECAC is in charge of the Section 8 program in 12 northeast counties. Housing counselor David Amirault said at least 1,600 clients in the state would be affected by the lack of federal funding. 

"The vast majority, I believe all the families actually, that I services and that I work within my counties, they just simply could not afford their rent if they didn't receive the assistance that we give them," he said. 

Turner said, without federal assistance, he would struggle to pay for his rent. 

"It could be bad for me because I wouldn't be able to get all of the rest of my bills paid," he said. 

If the government shutdown continues past February, Turner said, he and his fiancée may be able to come up with all the money for at least one month's worth of rent.

"I don't know about the rest of the months," Turner said. "I just hope that, if they get the government back up and running, that would be good, that would help a lot of people." 

Turner said he would even consider borrowing money to pay all of his rent.

"Nobody wants to get a loan, but at this time I'd say getting a loan is the best thing to do because that would help you with your bills, with paying off rent and bills," he said. 

Amirault said clients should not get loans at this point to try to pay landlords the portion of their rent Section 8 normally covers. 

"I don't think I would advise that at this time," Amirault said. "I think it would be better for them to just wait patiently. The additional expense and the interest they can pay on a loan for folks who are already having a difficult time, I don't think that would be a wise choice."

However, Amirault said, even if the government shutdown goes until March, as long as Section 8 beneficiaries continue to pay their portion of the rent, they should not have to worried about housing. 

"They shouldn't be kicked out of their houses," he said. "We have sent a letter to the landlords asking both that they just be patient with us, that they would get pay when they government opens back up." 

Turner said he would do whatever it takes to make sure his family has a house. 

"If we don't have a house, I suddenly can't and go stay with my mom," he said. "I know my mom would probably let us but that would be just a tight squeeze."