Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Housing Subsidy Threatened Bill Would Cut HUD Funding

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Housing Subsidy Threatened Bill Would Cut HUD Funding

Article excerpt

About 5,000 people in Jacksonville could lose their subsidized

housing and be forced to retreat to substandard homes, shelters

or elsewhere if a bill passed by the U.S. House becomes law,

housing officials said this week.

The bill would cut $2.2 billion from the Section 8 housing

program for fiscal year 1999. The Section 8 program gives people

vouchers to live in private rental housing or designated Section

8 complexes; it does not include people in public housing

complexes.

Proponents of the bill, however, say lawmakers are borrowing

the money from a fund of unspent HUD money that eventually will

be replaced, and that no one will lose services.

While doubtful the money would be restored, opponents are

hopeful the bill will not make it past the Senate and President

Clinton.

The measure, however, has Jacksonville housing officials

worried.

Already about 6,000 people are awaiting federally subsidized

housing in the city, they say, and the homeless shelters are

packed.

"Some people would have to find friends or family to live with,

some would have to pay more rent than they can afford, some

would join the homeless," said Ronnie Ferguson, executive

director of the Jacksonville Housing Authority. "We have so many

unserved people, any cut would be hurtful."

The bill, which passed the House 212-208 on March 31, provides

money for U.S. troops overseas and disaster aid but would cut

$2.2 billion from HUD money for Section 8 housing for fiscal

year 1999. The bill is on its way to a House-Senate conference

committee.

Proponents of the bill, however, said it would not force people

out of their homes, at least not this year, and that the $2.2

billion is unspent HUD money that will be replaced next year.

"This will not put people on the streets," said U.S. Rep. Bob

Livingston, R-La., chairman of the House Appropriations

Committee. "We will have to replace this hole in fiscal year

1999, but it will not adversely affect anyone in 1998. …

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