Bennet, Salazar Urge Feds to Help Fill Affordable Housing Shortfall, Assist Struggling Families in Garfield County

Without Funding, Seventy-Six Struggling Families May Lose Their Homes

Would Be First Time GarCo Housing Authority Has Cut Services in 24 Years

Washington, DC - Today, Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, and Congressman John Salazar urged U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials to continue to work with the Garfield County Housing Authority (GCHA) to prevent budget shortfalls from forcing struggling families out of their homes.

In a letter to Sandra B. Henriquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, Bennet and Salazar supported a request by the Garfield County Housing Authority's for funding from a $100 million fund created by Congress to support housing authorities during times of financial hardship and unforeseen circumstances.

"GCHA deserves careful consideration throughout this process, because it is at great risk of being forced to remove families from the voucher program. This would be the first time in 24 years that GCHA has cut services for families in need..." wrote Bennet and Salazar. "As HUD continues to work with public housing agencies to lessen the impact of budget shortfalls on families, we ask that you carefully consider GCHA's application for assistance from the remaining balance of the set-aside fund.

HUD is currently working with the GCHA, Senator Bennet, and Congressman Salazar to assess the situation on the ground and find a solution.

The full text is included below of the Bennet Salazar letter to Assistance Secretary Henriquez:

August 6, 2009

The Honorable Sandra B. Henriquez
Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 Seventh Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20410

Dear Assistant Secretary Henriquez:

We write to support Garfield County Housing Authority (GCHA) in its request for additional funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.

Recently, HUD made decisions regarding the applications of 2,400 housing agencies which had requested assistance from HUD's $100 million set-aside fund. As you know, this fund was created by Congress to support housing authorities during times of financial hardship and unforeseen circumstances. Unfortunately, GCHA learned that it would not receive assistance through this fund.

We understand that HUD has awarded only $89 million from the set-aside fund, and it will now continue to award the remaining $11 million to housing authorities at risk of removing families from the voucher program. In addition, HUD has announced it will provide another $30 million to agencies eligible to receive special administrative fees for technical assistance, which can also be used to fund the voucher program. GCHA deserves careful consideration throughout this process, because it is at great risk of being forced to remove families from the voucher program. This would be the first time in 24 years that GCHA has cut services for families in need.

On July 31, 2009, GCHA sent letters to 76 families, selected randomly, to inform them they could not be supported by the voucher program after September 30, 2009. This deadline was extended through GCHA's use of $15,000 from its administrative budget and $52,000 from other accounts.

As HUD continues to work with public housing agencies to lessen the impact of budget shortfalls on families, we ask that you carefully consider GCHA's application for assistance from the remaining balance of the set-aside fund. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Michael F. Bennet
United States Senator

John T. Salazar
United States Representative