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Section 8 funding reduced

The Bremerton Housing Authority has asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to reconsider its 2005 funding award for its Section 8 voucher program.

“The worst case is that we’ll lose between $200,000 and $280,000 and up to 50 families may be displaced,” said Roy Sowerby, BHA’s housing programs director.

Those families could be removed from the section 8 waiting in a variety of ways, but no decision has been made on how to make those adjustments, Sowerby said.

“No matter what we do, there will be a period of public comment,” he said.

HUD had put housing authorities across the nation on notice that changes were coming, but those changes weren’t anticipated until 2006, he said.

Under the changes, section 8 programs receive a lump sum or block of funding instead of receiving funding based on individual units, he said.

The changes, which are based on occupancy rates for the months of May, June and July, also do not account for increases in rent or other factors, he said.

“Over the course of a year, the housing authority averages a 100 percent occupancy rate,” he said.

The housing authority is asking HUD to look at another three months instead of May, June and July, because those months are not an accurate reflection of its occupancy rates, he said.

“Those are the months when most families move and there are other considerations as well,” he said. “Those are just the three months HUD picked.”

The impact of those changes will be felt at some level of the housing authority’s West Park redevelopment plans, he said.

“We had planned to use section 8 to provide transitional housing for those families,” he said. “However, now we may not have that option.”

Even though the housing authority has made its plea for reconsideration, Sowerby said he is not optimistic about its chances.

“We have to do the best we can and prepare for the worst case,” he said.

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