Sequestration hits housing assistance

BOULDER – Boulder Housing Partners has frozen housing assistance for 50 low-income families and potentially will deplete up to 62 percent of its emergency reserve funds if the current deadlock on federal funding continues this year, its executive director said.

“Sequestration is not an abstract concept,´ said Betsey Martens, executive director of BHP. “This has a real and serious impact on our most vulnerable citizens first. Fifty families in our community will not receive essential housing assistance because Congress can’t agree on a budget.”

Martens said the agency is taking things one step at a time. BHP is authorized to provide housing assistance to 861 households in Boulder. Currently, 818 homes are occupied, and these residents are not at risk of losing their housing.

BHP received notice of a 9 percent cut in its operating budget for 2013, or $557,000, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last week. The funding reduction impacts four major programs: operation and maintenance of public housing; rental assistance payments to landlords on behalf of the elderly, disabled, veterans and families with children; supportive and family self-sufficiency services and homeless programs.

Compounding the local crisis, said Martens, is that sequestration comes after five straight years of federal funding reductions totaling 15 percent to 25 percent for assisted-housing programs. Federal funding comprises approximately 41 percent of BHP’s current operating budget.

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