Housing cuts mean fewer families served

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Marcia Nelesen
August 2, 2013

JANESVILLE--About six fewer Janesville families will receive Section 8 federal housing help this year, mostly the result of the sequester in Washington.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this summer notified Janesville that its expected funding for 2013 would be cut by more than 6 percent.

The city had been eligible to receive a total of $2.638 million but instead received $2.479 million, said Jennifer Petruzzello, a difference of $214,000.

About $158,918 of that is directly related to the sequester, and the remaining is because the number of households that Janesville helped last year fell short when compared to the agency's national benchmarking, Petruzzello said.

The city had hoped to help a total of 543 households in 2013, Petruzzello said. That number is now reduced to 510.

Last year, 516 households participated in the Section 8 housing program.

Nobody will be forced off the program, Petruzzello said. The decrease will be handled by attrition or by the use of program reserves.

Janesville in 2012 received $2.304 million from HUD for Section 8, and HUD then also required communities to use portions of their reserves, meaning a total in Janesville of $2.648 million.

Janesville received $2.884 million from HUD in 2011 and $2.762 million in 2010.

Section 8 is an income-based program, and participants pay 30 percent of their adjusted gross income to rent and utilities. Eligible families make less than 30 percent of the Rock County medium income, or $18,650 for a family of four.

Janesville's waiting list for Section 8 help has been closed for more than three years. Fewer than 100 families remain on the list.

The rental assistance program is staffed by two, full-time Section 8 housing specialists,  one part-time building inspector, a part-time customer service employee and a portion of Petruzzello's time.

Conversely, Janesville this year received a larger federal Community Development Block Grant than expected because the city's low-income population increased.

Funding went up nearly $62,000 from last year's $409,000.

 “It's kind of a mixed bag there,” Petruzzello said. “We're glad to see the additional resources coming into the community because the need is definitely there.”

The money will be spent on providing no-interest loans for low-income people to make home improvements, both in owner-occupied and rental properties. It also will pay for proactive code enforcement in inner-city neighborhoods.

Block grant money available for local nonprofit agencies grew from $77,000 to $85,000.

ECHO now will receive $3,000 more for emergency rental, for a total of $43,000; HealthNet will receive $3,000 more for a total of 33,000; and the Janesville Literary Connection will receive $2,000 more for a total of $9,000.

Janesville's Community Development Block Grant in 2012 was $409,445; in 2011, it was $488,251, and in 2010, it was $584,756.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story that was prematurely posted contained incomplete information.

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