The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 21, 2013

Hundreds of local families are locked out of housing aid


— Marino blames Obama

Marino also leveled criticism at President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, saying their focus is in the wrong place right now.

“Rather than taking a rock star bus tour to college campuses to propagate more empty promises, the president and vice president should demand that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pass the 40-plus pieces of job-creating legislation that has been setting on his desk for years that will create jobs immediately,” Marino said.

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11 of Hazleton, remains deeply concerned about the increased hardships many families and small businesses are facing across Pennsylvania, a spokeswoman for Barletta said. On March 1, 2013, sequestration went into effect. The Senate and the president had no plan for addressing sequestration, while the House of Representatives, including Congressman Barletta, voted multiple times to resolve sequestration in a measured and responsible manner, the spokeswoman said.  

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said what’s happening with housing is “further evidence that the sequester doesn’t make sense.

“We can cut spending in a smart and strategic way while ensuring that low-income families in Union County and throughout the state have adequate housing resources,” he said.

Casey: Fix possible

A representative of Casey’s office met this summer with the Union County Housing Authority to learn of its situation. Union County has 60 families that qualify for the Section 8 housing voucher program, but can’t get help because of funding cuts from the federal sequester. There are 275 families on the county’s waiting list, some that have been on it as long as two years.

Casey said Congress has the opportunity to fix the sequester in the next month. “I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to come together to make that happen,” he said.

The senator vowed to work with local officials to support opportunities for additional funding “to lessen the impact of these challenges.”  

For now, the Montour County Housing Authority, which has a waiting list of 70 to 80 families, is “trying to do the best we can with limited amount of funding we’re receiving,” Jeffreys said.

Even beyond the end of the year, the future is uncertain for the Northumberland County Housing Authority, Christiano said, as the HUD budget still is in limbo.

“We don’t know what kind of numbers we’re looking at,” he said. “And if the sequester does not end before next year, the cuts and cutbacks will continue. It will just be additional cuts and not getting vouchers. Our numbers will keep going down.”

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