Feedback: Thousands Won't Get Rent Help

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Housing.  We all need it, but it could soon be harder for low-income families to get it.

That's because the state of New York is facing big sequester cuts - as much as $20 million  - to its housing assistance program this year.

To fill the gap, the state is freezing so-called Housing Choice Vouchers, which help people pay rent.

The state won't have the money, which means more than 1,000 people waiting to get vouchers in Jefferson and Lewis counties will be left to fend for themselves.

Only people on the waiting list will be affected; people who already have vouchers will not.

"It's absolutely devastating to be having these cuts in vulnerable populations like this when they really, truly need it at some of the highest levels in recent history," said Scott Mathys, CEO of Lewis County Opportunities. 

Shanda Conklin is one of the many people who rely on the vouchers to help pay the rent.

Without it, she says she couldn't afford to stay in her home.

"I've relied on this voucher. I've lived here for five years. This is my home and I couldn't imagine it without this voucher," she said.

Landlords will also be hard hit.

Those participating in Section 8, like Neighbors of Watertown, depend on the vouchers to rent out their apartments.

"It's a valuable commodity and the little nickel and dime cuts here and there shouldn't be shouldered by the people that can least afford it," said Gary Beasley of Neighbors of Watertown.

The state's public housing authority is still working through some final details and will likely have more guidelines regarding the freeze in the coming weeks.

 

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Friday, July 25, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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