Madison is looking at tapping into its Affordable Housing Trust Fund to fill a shortfall in funding for Section 8 housing vouchers, which subsidize the rent payments of low-income residents.
Faced with a $500,000 budget shortfall, the Madison Community Development Authority reduced its subsidy for Section 8 vouchers ("CDA Doing Less With Less," 6/19/09), meaning many recipients would see a rent increase.
Ald. Michael Schumacher is preparing an ordinance to allow the city to tap into the trust fund to fill the gap. This requires council approval, since, Schumacher says, "the original fund was set up to create more housing, not to pay for rents."
Bill Clingan, Madison's community development division director, says the $4 million trust fund gets money from several sources, including interest on loan payments, matching federal funds and private contributions.
Some 80% of the 1,400 people receiving vouchers in Madison are expected to see rents increase because of the shortfall.
Schumacher calls it "appalling" that the federal government has cut the budget for affordable housing amid one of the largest spending sprees in history. He hopes the funding will be restored in October, meaning the city will only have to cover the shortfall for September. He doesn't want the Affordable Housing Trust Fund supplementing Section 8 rents beyond this year.
"I was reluctant to initiate this because we cannot continue doing it," he says. "If the state or federal government cut somewhere else, we cannot pick up the tab."