Public housing authorities across the country are taking painful steps in the face of sequestration.

For example, in anticipation of the across-the-board cuts, the King County Housing Authority (KCHA) in Washington has suspended issuance of Sec. 8 housing choice vouchers to the families that have applied to its waiting list.

That means KCHA is not re-issuing housing vouchers that are turned in by families that no longer require or are eligible for assistance. The authority normally provides between 45 and 50 vouchers per month to elderly or disabled households, veterans, and families with children.

"Low-income families and individuals struggling with high unemployment in the aftermath of the recession or living on limited fixed incomes and dealing with rising housing costs should not be shut out of critical safety net programs because of gridlock in Washington, D.C.," said Stephen Norman, KCHA executive director, in a statement. "Sequestration will result in some 600 fewer families in our local communities receiving crucial rental assistance over the next year. Because rents are so high, many of these families may, quite literally, find themselves out on the street as a result of these arbitrary budget cuts."

The housing authority provides assistance to about 11,000 households on any given night. 

KCHA leaders added that the funding cuts will also impact their public housing program by delaying critical repairs to apartments and reducing management services.

In Texas, the Fort Worth Housing Authority serves about 5,104 individuals and families through the Sec. 8 program.

It also announced that it is canceling outstanding vouchers that were recently issued. Letters are being mailed to new voucher holders who are either searching for a rental unit or who are waiting to move into a unit letting them know that the vouchers are being canceled.

In an early estimate, the agency said 255 families could be affected by the reduction in voucher assistance. 

There are 18,000 families on the waiting list, but agency officials do not anticipate issuing any new vouchers this year. However, the voucher program for homeless veterans is not affected.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority, one of the largest housing authorities in the nation, could lose about $42 million in funding this year as a result of the federal cuts, according to an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan recently cited examples of the potential cuts, including:

  • More than 100,000 formerly homeless people, including veterans, being removed from their current housing and emergency shelter programs; 
  • 75,000 fewer households receiving foreclosure prevention, pre-purchase, rental, or homeless counseling through housing counseling grants;
  • 7,300 fewer households receiving assistance through the Housing Opportunity for Persons with AIDS program;
  • 2,100 affordable homes not getting built or rehabilitated by communities that receive HOME funding; and
  • Public housing agencies being forced to defer routine maintenance and repairs to public housing, leading to deteriorating living conditions and the permanent loss of units that serve 1.1 million of the nation's poorest residents.

In addition, sequestration will cause HUD employees to take seven furlough days between May and August.