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Letter to The Honorable Sandra B. Henriquez, Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Denver, CO

Bennet Announces HUD To Help Fill Affordable Housing Shortfall, Assist Struggling Families in Garfield County

At the Urging of Bennet and Congressman Salazar, HUD Grants Requested Funding

Without Funding, 76 Struggling Families Could Have Lost Their Homes

Would Have Been First Time GarCo Housing Authority Was Forced to Cut Services in 24 Years

In a move that prevents budget shortfalls from forcing struggling families out of their homes, Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today announced that the Garfield County Housing Authority will receive funding it requested from an assistance program provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Such assistance is provided to qualified housing authorities during times of financial hardship and unforeseen circumstances. Bennet requested the funding last week in a letter with Congressman John Salazar.

Bennet announced that the Garfield County Housing Authority (GCHA) will receive the funding it needs to address a budget shortfall in its Section 8 voucher program, which helps low-income families to pay their rent. The funding will allow 76 families to stay in their homes.

"The economic downturn has been difficult for many Colorado families who work hard every day to make ends meet and keep a roof over their heads," Bennet said. "This emergency funding from HUD couldn't have come at a better time for the 76 families in Garfield County who were at risk for losing their homes this year. These families needed help, and I am glad that we could work with the Garfield County Housing Authority and HUD officials to make this happen."

In early August, Bennet and Salazar urged HUD officials to continue to work with the GCHA to prevent budget shortfalls from forcing struggling families out of their homes.

In a letter to Sandra B. Henriquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, Bennet and Salazar supported a request by the Garfield County Housing Authority for special assistance.

Today, Bennet announced news that the Garfield County Housing Authority would receive the funding.

The full text of the Bennet-Salazar letter to Assistance Secretary Henriquez is included below:

August 6, 2009

The Honorable Sandra B. Henriquez
Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 Seventh Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20410

Dear Assistant Secretary Henriquez:

We write to support Garfield County Housing Authority (GCHA) in its request for additional funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.

Recently, HUD made decisions regarding the applications of 2,400 housing agencies which had requested assistance from HUD's $100 million set-aside fund. As you know, this fund was created by Congress to support housing authorities during times of financial hardship and unforeseen circumstances. Unfortunately, GCHA learned that it would not receive assistance through this fund.

We understand that HUD has awarded only $89 million from the set-aside fund, and it will now continue to award the remaining $11 million to housing authorities at risk of removing families from the voucher program. In addition, HUD has announced it will provide another $30 million to agencies eligible to receive special administrative fees for technical assistance, which can also be used to fund the voucher program. GCHA deserves careful consideration throughout this process, because it is at great risk of being forced to remove families from the voucher program. This would be the first time in 24 years that GCHA has cut services for families in need.

On July 31, 2009, GCHA sent letters to 76 families, selected randomly, to inform them they could not be supported by the voucher program after September 30, 2009. This deadline was extended through GCHA's use of $15,000 from its administrative budget and $52,000 from other accounts.

As HUD continues to work with public housing agencies to lessen the impact of budget shortfalls on families, we ask that you carefully consider GCHA's application for assistance from the remaining balance of the set-aside fund. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Michael Bennet John T. Salazar
United States Senator United States Representative


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