Uncertainty Looms for Low-Income Tenants

With the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) shutdown, the 70% rent subsidy for low-income tenants is not being paid to private building owners. The Washington Post reported that HUD is suggesting to landlords that they should draw on their reserves to make up shortfalls.  Another possible option for private owners is to ask their mortgage lenders for help easing through this period.

The issue for poorer Americans needing this subsidy is that 1,650 private building contracts are unable to be renewed and 550 are set to expire in February. This puts a strain on private owners and lowers their incentive to offer this affordable option. Many of these tenants are disabled or elderly, and some building owners rely on the government assistance to provide other social services like childcare or transportation. With the continuation of uncertainty by the government shutdown, owners might think twice about renewing these contracts, especially in communities with fewer options for affordable housing. Landlords could raise rents on vulnerable households.

While Low Income Housing Tax Credit Projects are relatively safe in that they are based on the tax code and do not rely on annual appropriations, many of these same projects utilize multiple funding sources, which may be adversely affected by the government shutdown.

For many residents of affordable housing developments, adding to the anxiety of potential housing problems, the United States Department of Agriculture SNAP food assistance program is only funded through February.

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