Sequester cuts impact housing assistance for metro families - KCTV5

Sequester cuts impact housing assistance for metro families

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Because of the sequestration, federal budget cuts to public housing could force thousands of families out of their homes and onto the streets.

The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says the cuts will slash millions and impact the most vulnerable.

Missouri and Kansas will not receive close to $20 million that helps the veterans, disabled and elderly members of the community because of the sequester.

At the Waterstone Apartments in Kansas City, KS, 33 families are facing possible eviction.

"I was a little shook at first, but we believe in God. So we prayed," resident Garry Robinson said.

Robinson, his wife and three children were part of a project-based voucher program. It helps those trying to get back on their feet afford housing.

"Due to the budget cuts, we were notified this year after we had 33 households move in that those vouchers for Waterstone Apartments will no longer be filled," business manager Tawnya Metzler said.

Robinson and his wife needed the program after life took a sudden turn.

"Things took a turn for the worse. I ended up getting laid off. She was laid off. That was right around the time the recession was really horrible," Robinson said.

Thanks to the project-based voucher, they could afford an apartment. They have also found jobs.

"We have these households now who are living here who are unable to pay rent. We are not sure what we are going to do. They are all working class households who were using this PBS assistance to really get their feet underneath them and now the rug's been ripped out," Metzler said.

Metzler said the apartment complex has tried to find alternate funding for those who received the voucher.

"The 33 households that moved in where referred by local non-profit agencies. They had to be considered what they call chronically homeless, meaning they were bouncing house to house or literally living on the streets," Metzler said.

They have set up a text line hoping to partner with a local nonprofit. Anyone wanting more information can text "WaterstoneKC" to 47368.

"We have spoken to local organizations. We have tried to get private funding," Metzler said.  "Management at this point ... we are scrambling. I'm not going to lie. We are trying to do everything that we can because these aren't just numbers and figures. These are individuals, households, families and children," Metzler said.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan testified before Congress calling the cuts deeply destructive.

He told Congress it would damage the economy and force about 125,000 families to lose assistance from the housing choice voucher program.

Donovan called sequestration a self-inflicted wound that will have devastating effects on the economy and people across the nation.

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