Local housing authority dealing with impact of government shutdown

Partial government shutdown affecting those with limited means

DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - It’s not clear when the partial government shutdown will end, and that creates concern and some uncertainty for low-income tenants across the country.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is one of the federal agency’s most impacted. On the department’s website a bright red notice announcing the agency is closed.

If you scroll past the notice to the contact information and use the number listed for the Field Office located in Birmingham, you get a voicemail message saying that “most HUD programs have been temporarily interrupted" due to the shutdown and they “can’t check the voice mailbox during the shutdown."

Although resources are limited with the temporary closure Samuel Crawford, executive director for Dothan’s Housing Authority, said locally they are still able to provide for tenants living in the six complexes.

“We’re still receiving federal subsidies because they were already designated before the shutdown,” said Crawford.

He said those subsidies including Operating Subsidies and Rent and Utility Subsidies are set to last for at least another month.

Crawford said even beyond that, they have a plan.

“Requirements by H.U.D. is that we do have reserves that we can continue operations in the event of some unexpected circumstances. I guess you would call a partial shutdown an unexpected circumstance," he said.

Crawford said they are prepared on the short-term for 3-4 months and on the long-term as long as a year, but that will come with some sacrifices.

“We’re already looking at what March would require from us, so we’re trying to be proactive versus reactive,” said Crawford. “But that does effect everything if we have to use our reserves for payroll to keep lights on.”

While things like safety inspections and essential operations will become priority for the Housing Authority to allocate reserve funding, Crawford said things like community activities and resident services will become low priorities.

Even if money runs tight Crawford said they’re already looking at emergency housing plans for tenants.

“As a community, we don’t want you to think just because the government is shut down that our tenants are going to go homeless. We do have a plan in place," he said.

House Democrats are using their new oversight authority to investigate the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s management of the shutdown.

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