MERIDEN — Federal funding for housing assistance is in place through February, but local officials and landlords are considering their options should the partial government shutdown continue beyond that.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has funded the Meriden Housing Authority, which pays rent for 221 units of public housing at Community Towers and Section 8 subsidies to between 700 to 800 families, for this month and next.
But if the shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, isn’t resolved by mid-February, the MHA will issue letters to Section 8 landlords warning them that March’s payment could be in jeopardy.
”We’re OK for January and February, they sent out housing authority funds in advance,” said MHA Executive Director Robert Cappelletti. “If there are some operating subsidy issues we’ll probably send out letters to landlords in February for March.”
Officials with Carabetta Management Co., whose various apartment complexes in Meriden house hundreds of Section 8 tenants, said there is uncertainty over how payments will come in if the shutdown drags out through February and March.
“None of us can project what’s going to happen,” said Sandra Sattler, director of property management for Carabetta’s Connecticut holdings. “The contracts and everything should be OK, but if this drags out...”
Section 8 recipients could face eviction if their subsidies run out, although Sattler said Carabetta Management will not hold those tenants responsible for the subsidized portions of their rent even if there is no end to the shutdown in sight.
Alan Barberino, owner of Barberino Property Management, leases about five Section 8 apartments in Meriden and other cities. He said his company may only have enough funding in reserve to weather four to five months without reimbursement. He warned that “there might be some little guys with a mortgage to pay that this is going to hurt.”
Cappelletti said HUD has reduced subsidies during past shutdowns to help stretch out available funds. HUD ends up solving those problems on an as-needed basis,” he said.
Meanwhile benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP will be distributed on Jan. 20 for the month of February. This is not an extra benefit, and recipients should budget accordingly, according to a statement announcing the program change.
All SNAP cards will work during the shutdown but new benefits won’t be added until it ends. The supplemental food program for women, infants and young children will remain open during the shutdown, but if the shutdown drags on participants are advised to seek regular updates.
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