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Sequestration: Cuts to Montgomery County's Housing Authority

Part Three of a Four-Part Series: How budget cuts may impact the housing authority.

As Democrats point fingers to the Republicans and Republicans point fingers at the Democrats, the one thing not happening in Congress is the stoppage of sequester. As it stands, the impact of the changes will begin as early as midnight on Thursday.

But how will this change impact those in Montgomery County? Another hard-hit department may be that of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Joel Johnson, executive director of the Montgomery County Housing Authority knows this fact all too well. Funded through the U.S. Department HUD, his department’s funding is in jeopardy with the fiscal year only half over.

“We receive four monies from four pots,” said Johnson. “Depending on Congressional allocation, the amounts vary.”

Two types of funding, Johnson said, fall under the voucher program.

To read part one of the series on the impact of county offices, click here.

To read part two on the impact to county seniors, click here.

“That is federal rent subsidization, utilized by households in the private marketplace,” said Johnson. In other words, privately-owned and –operated landlords can receive the rent.

“One big line item is for rent money, on behalf of program participants,” said Johnson. “A second line item is administration fees, paid for to staff and administer the programs.”

The other two “pots” of money support rental units owned and operated by the housing authority.

Of top concern with sequestration, Johnson said, would be cuts to the voucher program.

“It seems sequestration could have an impact of perhaps around 35 percent on the administration fee side that could be cut out of the budget,” he said. “On the rent-to-owner side, we could be impacted by probably 8 percent.”

Johnson is worried about the impact on his staff.

“On the administration side, we are carefully looking at our operation, we always have been very careful to function efficiently,” he said. “We’ll just have to be more careful moving forward.”

He hopes to prevent layoffs.

“We are hoping with some reserve funding, we are able to avoid short-term impacts on our staff,” said Johnson.

The Montgomery County residents that rely on the program, however, may not be as lucky.

“Under the voucher program, 2,600 participate in the county, all over the county,” said Johnson. “We are present in 90 percent of the 62 municipalities with our voucher program.”

He said 57 municipalities have 2,600 active leases, serving that many households with support.

“These are families with children, elderly, disabled,” said Johnson.

While the department has not yet gotten word on actual cuts, Johnson said he has been following trade organizations’ takes on the change.

“The impact could be up to a 25 percent reduction on the public housing operating fund,” he said. “Money comes from Congress to operate HUD.”

The county’s housing authority operates seven locations in the county, with 615 total public housing units.

Until Congress breaks down the reductions, the department will remain unsure of its future, but will try to create the smallest impact on its residents as possible.

“A cut would be on the operating subsidy, the money we get to operate the building,” said Johnson. “We have no plans on closing any [of the housing locations], we’d scale back some services.”

To read part one of the series on the impact of county services, visit this link.

To read part two of the series on the impact to area seniors, visit this link.

Mike Shortall Sr February 27, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Remember two things when reading all these warnings of dire sequestration cuts: 1. Sequestration was the brain-child of the Obama White House. Created by Jack Lew (Chief-of-Staff then, current Treasury Secretary nominee) and Rob Nabor (White House Congressional Laison); approved by President Obama for proposal to Congress; and accepted as a potential solution to the debt ceiling negotiations in 2011. 2. We're here because The President reneged on a promise to consider significant cuts to spending, when he won tax increases on those earning $450K, as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations in Dec-Jan.
A.S. February 27, 2013 at 07:44 PM
A month ago congress gave the community agitator tax increases on the rich. Now this socialist wants more! Get ready middle class...we are next considering we are the largest tax base in this country. The thing that froths me the most is...how the Dictator makes himself out to be the victim here in all of this. My question is...is anybody really listening to this a$$clown anymore?
Joseph Finnick February 27, 2013 at 08:03 PM
1. You are forgetting all of the Republicans who gladly accepted this as well. This was more of a Hail Mary for the White House to force compromise (remember he can't write laws) and so was only reluctantly supported. 2. He has considered cuts to spending. He has proposed several (though admittedly not enough). He just can't enact them. Things must be passed by Congress, then you can complain about the President if he doesn't sign them.
Mike Shortall Sr February 27, 2013 at 08:12 PM
Congress accepted the deal based on the premise that The President would not ask for additional revenue BEFORE seeking significant budget cuts. That's two strikes right there. Now we have The President trying to convince The People that sequestration was all the Republicans idea! (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/341553/obama-caught-lying-about-sequester-deroy-murdock) Strike three! (Can you tell I'm ready for baseball season?)
Joseph Finnick February 27, 2013 at 08:24 PM
Congress accepted the second deal. The original sequester was passed without any such requirements. Also, there is no before or after. It all must be done at the same time. That was from the debates in which all sides shamelessly lied (not saying it's right, but hey, it's how it worked). In either case, it was supported by key Congressional Republicans who have not done their job (along with Congressional Democrats who didn't do their job) to compromise to reduce the deficit. Also, yes baseball!
Tammi Szeles February 27, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire was not raising taxes. It brought tax rates back to what they were under Clinton. I don't consider that a raise in taxes. They need to close tax loopholes and end corporate welfare.
Tim Lewis February 27, 2013 at 11:41 PM
Joe, name just one cut the President proposed. Just one.
Tim Lewis February 27, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Someone isn't being truthful. According to that bastion of Conservatism, The New York Times, there are NO CUTS in Sequestration from today's funding levels, only a cut to the rate growth.
Joseph Finnick February 28, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Chaining CPI to Social Security, healthcare spending cuts, cuts to defense, cuts to domestic discretionary programs, and the somewhat ambiguous promise to reform and save money on entitlements.
Mike Shortall Sr February 28, 2013 at 01:20 AM
Joe, "ambiguous" is way too generous.
Joseph Finnick February 28, 2013 at 01:25 AM
I said they weren't enough. I also said "somewhat ambiguous." I agree, he should take the reins on this one and actually propose a way to reform entitlements, but in the end, it has to pass Congress and they, on both sides of the aisle, seem incapable of any type of thought that could be considered problem solving
danny roturra February 28, 2013 at 03:56 AM
i find it amusing that the patch continues the pattern of propaganda emanating from the white house and the democratic party. marx, lenon and stalin would have been proud...
Bill February 28, 2013 at 06:43 AM
Communism an ‘Exaggerated Fear’? Social Security a ‘Right’? We Have Jack Lew’s College Thesis You mean this Jack Lew ???? Sequestration was the brain-child of the Obama White House. Created by Jack Lew Yes this Jack Lew :-( http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/02/27/want-to-know-what-treasury-nominee-jack-lew-wrote-in-his-college-thesis-about-social-security-being-a-right-we-have-a-copy/
Bill February 28, 2013 at 06:55 AM
Obama administration caught in a lie — here’s how the media report it Continuing on with dire warnings about sequesterageddon, Obama warns that the across-the-board budget cuts will hurt education and could result in teacher lay-offs. Obama’s own Secretary of Education announced on Sunday: “There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall.” Oh noes! The claim is actually a lie, or — as the Washington Post explains it — “not backed by evidence.” The descriptions of the post-sequester landscape that have been coming out of the Obama Administration have been alarming, specific–and, in at least some cases, hyped. … When he was pressed in a White House briefing Wednesday to come up with an example, Duncan named a single county in West Virginia and acknowledged, “whether it’s all sequester-related, I don’t know.” con't
Bill February 28, 2013 at 06:55 AM
And, as it turns out, it isn’t. Officials in Kanawha County, West Virginia say that the “transfer notices” sent to at least 104 educators had more to do with a separate matter that involves a change in the way West Virginia allocates federal dollars designated for poor children. The transfer notices are required by state law and give teachers a warning that they may be moved to a different position next school year. They don’t necessarily mean a teacher has been laid off, said Pam Padon, director of federal programs and Title 1 for the Kanawha County public schools. “It’s not like we’re cutting people’s jobs at this point.” I’m sure Duncan simply misspoke. Or maybe he was just commenting on the information available to him at the time, or something. http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2013/02/27/obama-administration-caught-in-a-lie-heres-how-the-media-report-it/
fiscal_sanity February 28, 2013 at 01:27 PM
even with the cuts we are still spending more than last year. Example: your boss gives you a raise from $10/hr to $15hr but then says he can only give you $14/hr. If you're owebama you then complain that you can't feed your children, pay mortgage, etc even though you're getting more than last year!
Lee February 28, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Geez, the headlines here again assume the worst. Any company any gov agency has to be able to cut 2% of its budget to survive. This is nothing, but it appears harmful because of where the President's people are allowing the cuts to be taken - where they public relations wise scare people. I understand Dems wanting to be devoted to their ideals and leaders, but have Dems in our area recoginized that their party is Progressive and following the ideals of Communitarianism? Just asking. I believe most of the big Repubs are in on this, as they have much to gain despite what happens. It is quite evil what has been going on, I will include our misguided attempt at democratizing Iraq/Afghan. We have wolves in sheeps clothing running our world. Even here in little Montco we have commissioners who seem so eloquent and wonderful frankly, but they have been trained at the Aspen Institute which is progressive central. All of our young are being conditioned too through volunteerism, which also sounds so lovely and gracious. You will never hear any focus on the individual and his pursuits again in schools with the Common Core curricula. sorry to go on.
Stephen Eickhoff February 28, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Tammi, the only difference between allowing the tax cuts to expire and signing off on a tax hike is that one is passive and one is not. If Bush's tax cuts had, like nearly every other income tax rate change in history, been a permanent change, then Obama would have needed to sign off on a bill to raise them. Since they weren't permanent, he could just stall and make demands long enough to allow them to expire. If a person's tax rate goes from 35.5 to 39, that's an increase! It doesn't matter how it happened to the American taxpayer who is now poorer.
Judith E. Levy February 28, 2013 at 07:49 PM
I do hope that ALL Federal employees are affected by the big 'S'! I do mean Representatives and Senators!
tiredoftheviolence March 01, 2013 at 03:00 PM
They are making cuts to the increase only. The amount of funds that are already being spent is not changing, the proposed additional funding is. What I don't get is, we are a nation in trouble and they are talking about all these problems that we are going to face and the government just sent millions to Syria??

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