The partial government shutdown is more than a month-long and fears are escalating about survival and eviction at local housing authorities.
The ongoing shutdown has ignited fears of residents of the East Georgia Housing Authority Partners in Thomson, Warrenton, Harlem, and Crawfordville about being cast out of their homes since the authority, a public housing agency, is under the auspices of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a federal government entity.
The fears of eviction from public housing has been rampant in recent days and generated so many calls to the Housing Authority offices that Kelly S. Evans, the executive director, released an “All is Well” statement to assuage the concerns.
“I want to assure the residents of the member agencies of East Georgia Housing Authority in Thomson, Warrenton, Harlem, and Crawfordville that you are not in any danger of eviction due to the government shutdown. The news media is reporting evictions are up at HUD housing authorities. These are section 8 properties. Our housing authorities maintain strong financial reserves so that we can manage through situations like this,” Kelley wrote. “We have enough money to make it through this shutdown,” she wrote.
The fear of eviction is based on the misconception of Section 8 and public housing funds, Evans said.
There have been numerous media reports on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the possibility of eviction and the national news media have had stories of residents who receive subsidized houses losing that subsidy.
“The reality is that they are discussing Section 8 vouchers that have reached the end of their 12 month contract and can not be renewed due to lack of funding,” Evans said. “The majority of the section 8 vouchers are used to subsidize housing in private rental. Public housing is funded separately.,”
HUD issued recently a notice to its public housing communities saying that public housing is funded through February. Should the shutdown go beyond February, public housing reserve funds will be used to serve residents and pay vendors and employees, Evans said.
“The partner housing authorities that make up the East Georgia Housing Authority, Thomson, Warrenton, Harlem and Crawfordville, have reserves to weather several months beyond our current fund levels. We are in no danger at this time,” Evans said. “The state of the housing authority funding is stable should the shutdown last for 4-6 months,” Evans said.
The local housing authority director said it is unfortunate that news stories on Section 8 funding issues have created a sense of panic among East Georgia Housing Authority residents.
“We are fielding a large number of calls from our senior citizens and disabled residents asking if they will lose their housing. Our most vulnerable residents are terrified. It is a horrible unintended consequence of the shutdown. No senior citizen deserves to live with this fear,” Evans said.
The director also referred to a quote made by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) in a Jan. 16 article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. In the article about the affect of TSA staffing shortages at the Atlanta Airport, and people’s suffering, Isakson sounded an alarm from the senate floor.
“We’re just doing the wrong thing, punishing the wrong people, and it’s not right,” the longtime Republican lawmaker is quoted as saying.
“I agree with him,” Evans said of the fear people have had since the shutdown began Dec. 22, 2018.
Evans reiterated that the "All is Well" in the East Georgia Housing Authority. “You are not in danger of eviction due to the government shutdown.”