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Senate Passes, Obama To Sign Key Housing Reforms Backed By Leahy

Posted July 18, 2016

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, July 15, 2016) – Before leaving for the summer recess, the U.S. Senate Thursday night approved legislation championed by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (D) to make needed and long overdue reforms to several federal housing programs. The Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

The Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives in February, and the bill cleared the Senate Thursday night without opposition. Leahy is a cosponsor of the Senate version of the bill. In May he wrote to the leaders of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, urging them to lead the committee’s consideration of this legislation and to advance it to the full Senate for a vote.

Leahy, a longtime champion of affordable housing, said: “It is not often that such significant legislation receives such overwhelming support in Congress. After having heard from affordable housing advocates from throughout Vermont and New England, I was proud to cosponsor the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act.”

Leahy continued, “There is no doubt of the impact that federal rental assistance programs have in rural states like ours, and these are commonsense reforms to key housing programs that Congress has not reassessed in nearly two decades. Increasing opportunities for extremely low-income families and families experiencing hardship should be a priority in every community, and at every level of government. I am encouraged to see this level of support for affordable housing initiatives and hardworking advocates throughout our country, and I am pleased this legislation will be signed into law.”

The new law will make several reforms to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, and particularly to the Housing Choice Voucher program, also known as Section 8. The legislation addresses many priorities of the nation’s affordable housing community, including a more streamlined system for administering federally assisted housing programs. These steps will cut costs and allow providers to meet the needs of a more low-income families seeking assistance. The law will also allow housing agencies to use project-based vouchers for individuals and families who may be homeless, encouraging greater income growth and economic mobility among assisted families. The law also will support communities that seek to make needed repairs to aging public housing stock to improve the quality of life for current and future residents.

Erhard Mahnke, coordinator of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that the Senate has overcome partisan differences to pass this common sense bill.” He added: “These reforms provide Vermont new tools to reduce homelessness, preserve affordable housing, and increase self-sufficiency for low-income Vermonters. Our deepest thanks go to Senator Leahy for his leadership in helping to make this happen!”

The bill now set to become law was strongly supported by the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition and the Vermont State Housing Authority. It is also endorsed by a broad coalition of national organizations, including the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Housing Assistance Council, the National Council of State Housing Agencies, the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Organizations, the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, and the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights also strongly supports the legislation, as does the National Association of Realtors.

For a link to this press release, click here.

 



Job Opportunity: Section 8 Program Manager at Rutland Housing Authority

Posted January 12, 2016

The Rutland Housing Authority is seeking an experienced manager to oversee its Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. Duties include: administration in accordance with agency policy, and Federal, State and local regulations, determining participant eligibility and ongoing occupancy, record keeping, budgeting, reporting, unit inspections, landlord and community outreach and program monitoring. The ideal candidate will possess a bachelor’s degree or significant past experience with the Section 8 Program. Must be a proven clear thinker, well organized, solution oriented, self-starter, personable and possess computer proficiency.

The RHA offers a competitive salary commensurate with experience, a generous benefit package and a dynamic supportive work environment.

Please submit a letter of interest, resume and current references, in confidence to: Kevin Loso, Executive Director, Rutland Housing Authority, 5 Tremont Street, Rutland, VT 05701 or kloso@rhavt.org.

 



Waitlist for Section 8 Vouchers Now Closed

Posted June 18, 2015

The waitlist for Section 8 vouchers in Vermont, which reopened on April 1st of this year, is now closed. For more information read this recent article from the Rutland Herald below or at the link here:

With fewer federal dollars available to help and rents rising out of reach for more and more Vermonters, the state housing authority on Monday closed its waitlist for Section 8 housing vouchers after more than 1,400 applications flooded in within just two and a half months.

As of mid-day Monday, the agency had 1,435 applications on its waitlist, said Kathleen Berk, director of housing programs for Vermont State Housing Authority. The VSHA first closed its list in 2010, and despite briefly reopening it for those displaced by Tropical Storm Irene, kept it closed until April 1 of this year, when it had gone through every application on file.

“I think the number is astounding and really speaks to the incredible need for affordable housing across the state,” Berk said.

Section 8 vouchers are the federal government’s major program for assisting low-income families to afford housing in the private market. Administered locally by public housing authorities, the vouchers are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While waitlists in the past could reach these numbers, Berk said, they usually didn’t so accurately reflect need. Administrators would reach a name on the list and find out that the applicant had found help elsewhere, or was no longer eligible, and would move on to the next name.

But with these applications submitted within such a short period of time, Berk said all but a negligible amount of those 1,400 applicants probably do need the assistance now.

Vermont is the 13th most expensive state in the country for renters, according to a report jointly released in May by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition. A family must have 2.3 wage earners working full time at minimum wage, or one full-time earner working 90 hours a week, to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the statewide average market rate of $1,075, according to the report.

Statewide, a renter needs to make $16.07 an hour to afford a market-rate one-bedroom at $836, but the average Vermont renter only makes $11.78 an hour, the report said. Rents in Vermont have gone up 29 percent since 2008, it noted.

Of the applications currently on the VSHA’s waitlist, 579 are families with children, Berk said, 169 are elderly households, and 256 are families with disabilities. Seventy-six of those 1,400 applications are from Rutland County, Berk said, and 33 of those applications represent families with children. Eight are applications from elderly households, 18 from families with disabilities.

The VSHA generally issues vouchers on a first-come, first-served basis, although since Irene, it also gives slight preference to those recently displaced by fire, flood and condemnation, Berk said. Those in a transitional housing program administered by the VSHA get some preference as well, Berk said, and the agency is seeking public input on the possibility for a preference for homeless families.

The VSHA is approved to administer 3,736 vouchers, but only 3,292 of those vouchers were funded as of May 1, Berk said. She added that assuming funding levels hold steady and the agency turns over 30 to 50 vouchers a month, the VSHA expects it will be about two years before it gets through its waitlist.

Regional housing authorities across the state administer Section 8 vouchers as well, but Vermonters seeking relief there generally face waitlists of two to three years.

A renter who lives within a regional authority’s boundaries can apply to the state and the regional authority’s Section 8 programs, but ultimately can only accept one voucher.

In Rutland County, the Rutland Housing Authority administers vouchers within six miles of the Rutland City limits. That authority’s waitlist is open, but any renter submitting his or her name now faces about a two-year wait, said Becky Ladabouche, RHA office assistant. The authority has a little less than 200 vouchers to work with, she said.

Bennington Housing Authority’s waitlist is open, but it should take the agency anywhere between two and three years to get through the names already on the waitlist, said Debbie Reed, BHA executive director.

The Montpelier Housing Authority waitlist is open — after having been closed for about four years — but 50 applicants already sit on the waitlist. Of the 122 vouchers the agency is approved to administer, only 106 are funded, said Jo-Ann Troiano, MHA executive director.

 



VSHA Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Waiting List to Open April 1, 2015

Posted March 19, 2015

Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA) will be opening its waiting list and begin accepting applications for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program on April 1, 2015 at 8:00AM. Beginning April 1, 2015, applications may be obtained by visiting VSHA’s website at www.vsha.org/vsha-programs/rental-assistance-program and clicking on Application for Rental Assistance. Applications can also be obtained at their office located at One Prospect Street, Montpelier, VT between the hours of 8:00 am. – 4:00 pm. Monday – Friday, or by contacting VSHA’s Intake Office at 802-828-1991.

A new revised pre application will be posted to the VSHA website and made available in paper format beginning April 1, 2015 at 8:00AM.

PLEASE NOTE – THEY WILL ONLY ACCEPT THIS FORM OF APPLICATION – BEGINNING APRIL 1, 2015 @ 8 AM. EARLIER VERSIONS ARE OBSOLETE AND WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

vsha_logo2015

 



Vermont State Housing Authority Announces Section 8 Project-Based Voucher Awards

Posted October 27, 2014

In a recent press release the Vermont State Housing Authority announced twelve developments have been selected to receive approximately $255,000 (annually) in Section 8 Project-Based Voucher (PBV) rental assistance funds.

These awards are for existing housing units and will immediately provide 40 very-low income families affordable housing.

The request for Section 8 PBV assistance was highly competitive, with 25 proposals received, requesting a total of 95 PBV’s.

Awards were made in communities that have a high level of need for federal housing programs with the highest percentage of renters paying more than 30 percent of household income toward rent.

Following is a list of projects receiving funding:

Applicant / Project / Location / PBV Award
Housing Vermont/ Waits River Housing / Bradford / 5
Memphremagog Rentals / Memphremagog Rentals / Newport/SJ 2
Rural Edge / Newport / Newport / 1
The Housing Foundation, Inc. / Dogwood Glen I / Northfield / 4
Cathedral Square Corp. / Thayer House / Burlington / 10
Rural Edge / 101 Main Street / Lyndonville / 2
Rural Edge / 86 Raymond St / Lyndonville / 1
Rural Edge / 559 Main St. / Lyndonville / 1
Housing Vermont / Grand Isle Housing / Grand Isle / 5
Housing Trust of Rutland County, Inc. / Stanislaus Apartments / W. Rutland / 4
Stewart Property Management / Salisbury Square / Randolph / 3
Middlebury Housing Associates / Middlebury Commons / Middlebury / 2

VSHALogo

 



ICYMI: The Sequester and the Homeless

Posted March 26, 2014

Consequences from sequestration continue to reverberate even after December’s budget deal.  The previous year’s cuts have deepened and prolonged our nation’s rental affordability housing crisis, a crisis that is described by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan as the worst our country has known.

On Sunday the New York Times Editorial Board ran a piece highlighting the impact the sequester continues to have on millions of Americans:

The sequester seriously damaged the Section 8 housing program, which subsidizes rents for more than two million of the nation’s poorest families. Local housing authorities reacted to the across-the-board cuts by tightening the screws on this voucher program. They ceased to issue new vouchers that would ordinarily have gone to homeless or needy families and even recalled vouchers that had been issued but had not yet been committed to landlords.

An analysis released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showed that, as of December, there were 70,000 fewer low-income families using vouchers to rent private housing than there were a year earlier…

The drop in the number of vouchers in circulation works against the program; Congress generally funds the program based on the number of vouchers in service the previous year.

The December budget deal that ended sequestration will allow housing agencies to replace less than half of the 70,000 vouchers lost in 2013. Given the pressing need, it should come up with the money to restore the rest.

The sequester also hurt the long-neglected public developments that house about 1.1 million of the country’s most vulnerable families. These developments had been staggering along under ever-shrinking operating budgets — and a $26 billion backlog in repairs — even before the sequester.

When further cuts came along, three quarters of state and local housing agencies reacted by cutting the number of families served, letting waiting lists grow and leaving damaged apartments vacant rather than repairing them.

The editorial continues to detail the cuts made to homeless assistance grants which have led to the removal of over 60,000 formerly homeless persons from housing and emergency shelter programs.  Read the full article online here (see also in PDF).

 



Gimme Shelter: In Vermont, Sequestration Leads to Homelessness

Posted August 15, 2013

By Kevin J. Kelley, August 14, 2013

“A quiet crisis wrought by indiscriminate federal budget cuts may force more than 2000 low-income Vermonters from their homes by the end of the year.

Housing officials plan to remove 774 households from a program that subsidizes rents for many of the state’s poorest residents. The cuts have already affected hundreds of Vermonters who had been taking part in what’s known as the Section 8 voucher system. No one knows what’s become of many of the tenants who have already been turned out…”

Link to Full Seven Days Article

PDF of Full Seven Days Article

 

 

 



VSHA recruiting for Field Representative

Posted August 9, 2013

The Vermont State Housing Authority is accepting applications for a Section 8 Field Representative for Windham, Bennington, and Rutland counties.

The VSHA a, statewide housing provider, is seeking a professional individual to handle all field operations for Section 8/McKinney funded housing rental programs in Bennington, Windham, and Rutland counties.  Responsibilities include: working with clients, landlords and community organizations; mediating issues; administering and enforcing contracts with property owners; and performing annual reexaminations of tenants and inspections of units under the program.

Bachelor’s Degree and two years’ work experience in public or private housing field, including public contact.  Individual will be home-based and must reside in Bennington, Windham, or Rutland County.  Extensive driving required, including weekly trips to the central office in Montpelier.  Position is limited-service for one year, 40 hours per week.

For full position details visit www.vsha.org.

Send cover letter and resume to:
Human Resources, VSHA
One Prospect St., Montpelier, VT
05602-3556. 

VSHA is an Equal Opportunity Employer. 

 

 



Sequester hits home with cuts to BHA

Posted April 9, 2013

“BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Housing Authority is letting its Section 8 tenants know that recent federal budget cuts will likely force a decrease in the monthly housing aid they receive.

BHA sent out a letter to its tenants last week explaining that cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development caused by the sequester will reduce the payment standard for all tenants to 90 percent of the fair market rent.

The amount of money each Section 8 tenant receives to help pay for rent varies depending on income, the rent payment, and other factors, and BHA Executive Director Chris Hart said the impact will vary from tenant to tenant…”

Link to Full Brattleboro Reformer 

View PDF of Full Brattleboro Reformer Article