Sequester cuts local housing vouchers

By: Christy Dimond Email
By: Christy Dimond Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Federal budget cuts are leaving more people out on the streets for longer in Grand Junction.

The Grand Junction Housing Authority is feeling the strains from the sequestration. Chief Operating Officer Lori Rosendahl said by the end of 2013, the program will lose between 80 to 100 Section 8 housing vouchers because the funding isn’t available to fill them.

Rather than recalling vouchers from people who already have them, the Housing Authority won’t be refilling vouchers for people who leave the program, which Rosendahl said is about five to ten families per month.

“For a community that has a waiting list of over 1,500 names long, it’s a huge impact,” Rosendahl said.

It already takes applicants up to 2.5 years to get a housing voucher, and the budget cuts could add an additional two years to that. The long-term implications mean more families will remain homeless for longer.

Rosendahl said the cuts have also forced her to cut back on staff and services at properties.

“I have already trimmed everything I can trim and we are now down to the bare minimum,” Rosendahl said. “My staff already has large caseloads and there’s nothing left to cut.”

The sequester cut 6.5 percent from the Grand Junction Housing Authority’s budget, which already faced a 25 percent cut at the beginning of 2013.

“It’s very hard to make cuts retroactively so what that means is the cuts going forward are going to be that much more severe,” Rosendahl said.

Currently, 1,040 families receive federal housing assistance in Grand Junction.

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