As the government shutdown pushes toward its 34th day, it's not only federal paychecks that are in jeopardy. Those who depend on federal subsidies to put a roof over their head are starting to worry.
"Currently, the HUD budget only allowed us funding through February 28th, so we can fund our landlords and our tenants through February 28th. We received our January subsidy, we received our February subsidy. After that, there is no funding," said Shelley Penge, Finance Director for the Municipal Housing Authority, in Utica. "So, we have a section 8 program which subsidizes rent, as well the city of Utica does, and the city of Utica's program, operated out of city hall, is even bigger than ours."
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri's office, via an emailed statement, said that the City of Utica Section 8 Program plans to remain open and will continue to provide all services as planned for its participants, and that housing assistance payments (HAP) for January and February were prescheduled. The statement made no mention about what happens in March, if the government shutdown continues. City officials who oversee the Section 8 program didn't return our calls by late Wednesday.
MHA officials say they have reserves and savings to temporarily sustain them, but are prohibited from giving it to Section 8 landlords. They say it's those private landlords who could be in for a struggle.
"It's going to put a big strain on these private landlords. Huge strain on these private landlords. If they have a mortgage on these homes that they're renting, how do they pay that mortgage?" asked Penge.