Nearly a million federal workers, including most employees of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, remain furloughed this week as a partial government shutdown continues.
Philadelphia-area housing authorities, though, are still open for business and have been largely unaffected by the political stalemate between President Obama and Congress.
HUD provides most the funding for the Montgomery County Housing Authority, but Executive Director Joel Johnson said his agency has enough money to operate through the end of the year.
“We received, fortunately, just before Oct. 1, the funds that HUD typically disburses to us on a monthly basis,” said Johnson.
The federal sequestration, he said, has been far worse. The Montgomery authority received $3 million this year instead of the usual $4 million.
Dale Gravett, who heads the Chester County Housing Authority, is still uneasy. He’s particularly concerned about future funding for Section 8 housing vouchers and if there will be money to pay landlords in November.
“There’s about 600 landlords in Chester County that will not receive payments,” said Gravett. ” We pay out roughly $1.1 million a month … to supplement the rent of residents that have housing vouchers.”
Most of them are senior citizens or disabled.
It’s unclear if tenants would be safe from eviction if their vouchers dry up. It’s up to individual landlords to make that decision.
To date, the most noticeable effect of the shutdown on local housing authorities is the obvious, yet important line of communication with HUD field workers.
Pressure to reopen the government is mounting as the deadline to raise the nation’s debt ceiling fast approaches.