Changes in Janesville's rent assistance program would increase numbers helped

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Marcia Nelesen
Monday, November 18, 2013

JANESVILLE--Janesville's Community Development Authority is considering reducing rent payments for households in an effort to serve as many households as possible from a shrinking pot of federal housing money.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hasn't approved its 2014 budget, but Jennifer Petruzzello, Janesville neighborhood services director, said the city's 2014 budget anticipates no increases in funding because of the federal sequester that mandated across-the-board cuts.

The proposed changes would allow the CDA to help an additional 22.5 families.

A public hearing is scheduled Wednesday.

Petruzzello hopes to help 494 households in 2014. That compares to 525 helped in 2013 and 516 helped in 2012.

“These changes are being proposed to try to increase that number of households we can reach,” Petruzzello said.

The Community Development Authority proposes to:

-- Increase the minimum family contribution toward rent and utilities to $40 a month. Currently, households are required to contribute 30 percent of their income or a minimum of $25 per month, whichever is higher. Reducing the subsidy will allow the city to aid an additional 2.5 families.

The city has 41 households that make less than $80 a month and so pay the minimum of $25 a month for rent and utilities, Petruzzello said.

Those people might try to earn the extra $15 a month, Petruzzello said. They often get extra support from family and friends, she said.

-- Tighten occupancy standards. The city standard would be one bedroom for every two people, provided that children ages 6 to 18 are not required to share a bedroom with someone of the opposite gender.

Petruzzello said staff doesn't tell people how to use their space, but if an adult child is living with parents, for example, the adult child could sleep in a living room area.

Families could keep larger units if they pay the difference.

The change would affect 44 families and would mean the city could help an additional 20 families. The savings is $191 per family per month.

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