Pending federal cuts may impact assistance to low-income housing

OCEANSIDE — Congress is slated to make its decision March 1, on whether or not to cut federal funds for domestic programs by 5.1 percent.This decision will significantly impact an estimated 1,600 households in Oceanside that currently receive monthly Section 8 Housing and Urban Development assistance to help pay rent.Section 8 funds assist very low-income families with children, individuals with disabilities and seniors.

The city’s goal is to continue serving all households currently in the program.

“It’s very difficult to manage and run a program with such uncertainty,” Angie Hanifin, housing program manager, said. “It’s a very serious situation. It will impact people who don’t have other options.”

Right now department staff is doing number crunching and holding discussions on what the possible options are if the proposed decrease goes through. If passed the reduction in funds will be retroactive from January, putting a further crunch on the Section 8 housing budget.

If federal cuts are made, funds per household will need to be reduced. Some households will be impacted more than others. Exact impacts have not been determined. Reducing the number of households that are assisted will be a last resort.

“We’re working on the numbers to see how we can do that with the least amount of pain,” Hanifin said.

To lower costs households may be restricted to renting smaller units. It is within HUD guidelines to house two people per bedroom or studio apartment.

Reduction in department staff hours or size will also be considered if cuts are made.

The Neighborhood Services Department will present its yearly budget to City Council March 13. At that time the department should have a better idea of federal funding amounts.

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