Shutdown might hit tenants and landlords, warn housing authorities

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- The federal government is entering the second month of the shutdown, and it could directly impact low-income housing tenants across the Central valley.

It could also be a hit to future affordable housing projects.

"If this is delayed for a month or year, that could create issues," says Merced City Development Director Scott McBride.

The Fresno Housing Authority's website says the department will continue rent payments and services to their residents through March.

Linda Shaw at the Housing Authority of Madera County says they have funding until March. After that, they'll use their reserve funds to provide service to Section 8 tenants.

"Section 8 is the largest department we run. We have almost 3 years worth of people on the waitlist," said Shaw.

Shaw is worried of what would happen to both her employees and Section 8 tenants if the reserve runs out.

"We wouldn't have the money to pay the landlords, and the landlords will choose whether to evict them or not. It has the potential to hurt a lot of tenants."

In Merced, city officials say they're eligible for funding directly from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps fund block grant and housing programs.

Scott McBride says they have affordable housing projects in the works, and for the time being, the city will be footing the bill.

"The city's general fund is making payments for obligations. Once we get funding, we'll get reimbursed. The question is what happens over a longer time period, if we can't get funding back to Merced."

If the shutdown continues, programs like warming centers could be impacted, and city officials say the price of some projects will only get higher later in the year.

"In the month of April and May, we're looking at $500,000 in reimbursement payments," said Merced City Housing Program supervisor Mark Hamilton.

It is against federal law to evict a Section 8 voucher holders for non-payment of the housing authority's portion of your rent. However, you are responsible for your portion throughout the shutdown.

For now, city officials in Merced say some of the short-term impacts are not being able to get in contact with HUD representatives with their questions and concerns on some of these projects.

They do tell us the city has a healthy general fund, but are worried about seeing impacts to projects and local non-profit organizations as the shutdown continues.
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