Sound like the sky is falling? We hope Congress doesn’t see it that way. At the National Housing Trust, we not only advocate for Project-Based Section 8; we also own and operate 14 housing communities in six states and the District of Columbia. We already are trying to figure out how long we could keep our properties open. And the sad answer is, not long. While we have operating reserves more than sufficient for ordinary concerns, they were never intended to cover deep cuts.
Owners around the country are struggling with the same problem; there are Project-Based Section 8 properties in every state.
We cannot believe that Congress — in putting sequestration in place to force action on the budget — intended to create a greater taxpayer burden. Moreover, if you want to consider additional pressing fiscal concerns, consider these:
• Nationwide, these apartment complexes annually support 100,000 jobs and generate $460 million in local property taxes.
• The Federal Housing Administration insures more than half of all Project-Based Section 8 properties. If owners default on their mortgages, the FHA will need to foreclose. The total amount insured by FHA is $13.5 billion.
These proposed cuts to Section 8 truly are penny-wise and pound-foolish. They cost the taxpayer money, drastically reduce affordable housing, hurt small business and ultimately lead down a path unfit for a caring nation.
Congress and the administration need to find some way to preserve this housing. Any fiscal cliff deal must give the appropriations committees enough flexibility and resources that they can fully fund investments that save money like Project-Based Section 8.
Michael Bodaken is president of the National Housing Trust.