Huntsville tenants relying on federal funding concerned during government shutdown

Some local tenants worry that if the shutdown lasts any longer, they could be in trouble.

Posted: Jan 22, 2019 4:54 PM
Updated: Jan 22, 2019 6:51 PM

Tenants in Huntsville who rely on federal funding to help pay their rent are expressing concerns about future funding during the government shutdown.

Officials with the Huntsville Housing Authority said none of their households have been affected so far, but tenants still worry that if the shutdown lasts any longer, they could be in trouble.

Deontarius Johnson, who lives at Butler Terrace Apartments, said he depends on government funding now more than ever. 

"It's hurting a lot of people out here," he said. "I've been out of work for a week."

When Johnson heard about the shutdown, he immediately thought about his family.

"The little food stamps that we do get, while you're taking them ... that's the little food we do get," he said.

Johnson also learned thousands of project-based rental assistance contracts are expiring. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has asked landlords to dip into their reserve funds. Huntsville Housing Authority officials said they do not have any of these contracts at this time, but Johnson said he sympathizes with those in other cities.

"They give you so much funding, so then you have to pay the rest of the rent. When they take the rest of the help they give you, it might not be much, but it was something you were used to," Johnson said.

Officials from Huntsville Housing Authority also said before the shutdown, they were told that public housing and tenant-based housing choice voucher programs would be funded through February 2019.

While there's no certainty on when the shutdown will end, Johnson said he is doing one thing to stay positive.

"Stay prayed up, stay prayed up, stay prayed up," he said.

For landlords who have to dig into the reserve funds to help tenants pay rent, this means other services like after-school programs and transportation could be put on hold.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development also states that 550 contracts could be terminated in February if the shutdown continues.

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