Federal Funding Cuts Affect the Syracuse Housing Authority

The Syracuse Housing Authority is funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, a federal agency that administers the cash flow of operating subsidy funds to all public housing authorities in the United States. SHA is one of 3500 housing authorities all across the nation. Remember that the rents you pay do not cover anywhere near the full amount it costs to keep your buildings heated, clean, maintained and to do all to the paperwork HUD regulations requires. To help with that, the federal government gives Housing Authorities additional funds or “subsidies” to fill that gap.

If you have been listening to the news lately, you all would know by now that the Federal Government has cut federal funds by 85 billion dollars for all federal agencies to rein in or bring down the annual trillion dollar national federal deficit. For the last decade or so, HUD has not given SHA the amount of money it should get based on the number of apartments managed, and so SHA has been struggling to do what it is suppose to do with less and less money each year.

This year on March 1st, the day the “Sequestration” hit, the proverbial saying is: “The Crap Hit the Fan”, and HUD automatically cut SHA’s funding by $1.2 million dollars.

Congress has still failed to approve a 2013 budget, and there are no financial plans for a federal budget in 2014. HUD is very concerned that the financial pressures that will be created as a result of funding at this level may critically degrade public housing authority’s (PHAs) ability to operate the Public Housing Program.

It doesn’t look good for SHA in the years to come based on the news from Washington. Normally the housing programs SHA administers work within the funding reductions seen because they are known to us ahead of time; so the budgeting process can work finding cost reductions where and when necessary. This year those reductions are still not set into appropriations yet. Due to the “sequester”, a 5 percent reduction from the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, that the government is running on right now, will result in a funding reduction down to 73 percent of what we should get for the remaining 9 months of the calendar year 2013 for SHA.

Since SHA cannot raise rents because the amount you pay is based on your personal income, it is forced to reduce our operating costs overall. SHA is forced to tighten its belt, and is approaching these funding difficulties by cutting as many expenses that are possible. The rising cost of utilities can’t be controlled and maintenance as well the many other things that make SHA run are also necessities, so SHA was forced to reduce the number of SHA staff in the Site Offices and the Main office. This has happened through employee retirements and actual layoffs for the first time ever.

SHA is focusing on its mission and its efficiencies in providing for its Public Housing and Section 8 clients. This includes keeping maintenance a priority within its Public Housing developments and working at keeping all active Section 8 vouchers utilized in helping people with rental assistance. SHA is looking to streamline other administrative processes in the central administration of all SHA’s housing programs. Please be aware though, that times are changing dramatically. SHA will hopefully continue to be able to provide safe, affordable housing and voucher assistance and those will continue to be our top priorities in the years to come.