Nearly 100 Robstown residents last week had to find a new place to live after the Robstown Housing Authority was forced to cut back a housing assistance program because of a lack of federal funding.
Laura Young, executive director of the Robstown Housing Authority, said Friday that she received notice from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that funding would be cut for HUD's Section 8 program.
The program assists individuals looking to rent a home on the private market, but may not be able to afford what the landlord is seeking monthly. The Section 8 program, which is handled through vouchers awarded to qualified applicants, subsidizes that rent based on a family's or individual's monthly income, Young said.
In most cases, rent for each month is usually 30 percent of the applicant's monthly income, with the Section 8 voucher paying the remaining balance, she added.
However, a notice was sent to 98 residents June 24 informing them of the impending funding shortfall and cancellation of their Section 8 vouchers.
"Please be assured that the Housing Authority does not wish to evict you, and this termination of rental assistance is not a reflection on your performance as a Section 8 tenant or landlord," the letter stated. "We are compelled to do this because of strict limitations that have been placed upon us by federal regulations."
Young said those impacted by the cutbacks have already contacted the Robstown Housing Authority office or begun making arrangements to find other places of residency, which they must do by the end of this month.
"Some of the families have already turned in their vouchers saying they didn't need the assistance anymore anyway," the head of the Robstown Housing Authority said. "Some landlords have also begun working with families to lower their rent."
Affected families and individuals will also have the opportunity to take advantage of public housing, Young said, but those individuals must apply for public housing to qualify.
"If the need is there, we believe they will take it," the executive director said. It's up to them, but we're encouraging them to (apply)."
As of Friday, about 40 of the 98 people to receive the Section 8 termination notice had gone to the Robstown Housing Authority office to apply for public housing or other assistance, Young said.
"Everybody's been coming in very calmly," she added. "Everything's been handled very peacefully."
The Robstown Housing Authority will award about 55 Section 8 vouchers in November, Young said, which could bring the total of families under contract back up to 177. Those vouchers would not become effective until January 2009, though, she added.
"I never would have dreamed we'd be doing this - it's just chaos," Young said.
"I guess it's just a sign of the times, but there's too many negative things going on."