Easy Reader Staff

Sequester hits Section 8 program in Redondo Beach

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Sequestration – the buzzword for $85 billion in budget cuts mandated by the federal government to raise the debt ceiling and reduce deficits – is beginning to ripple through the country. Redondo Beach is likely to feel an acute impact, most immediately to its Section 8 Rent Assistance Program, which could lose up to $1.2 million in federal funding.

City Manager Bill Workman raised the issue of sequestration and its effect on Redondo Beach during last week’s City Council meeting, at which time scant information was available about the cuts that were to become effective three days later.

Workman called sequestration “very serious,” as it will force Redondo Beach to “make some hard choices.”

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“The spigot’s going to be turned off,” he said simply.

Councilman Matt Kilroy called cuts to the Section 8 program the “biggest tragedy in Redondo Beach.”

Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 authorizes the federal government to assist low-income earners, particularly seniors and disabled people, with housing payments. A single person earning less than $29,900 is eligible to apply. A formulaic matrix dictates income thresholds for couples and households with dependents.

The program receives funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the form of reimbursements to both the city and the landlords with whom it has agreements. At a Housing Authority meeting in December, it was revealed that currently 543 Redondo Beach families are receiving assistance through Section 8.

The City is required give 90 days’ notice if it must terminate a Section 8 agreement.

“We’re trying to get additional information from the Department of Housing and Urban Development as to how we would conform with their cuts while at the same time conforming with these agreements we have with the property owners to accept Section 8 rental vouchers,” Workman said.

Mayor Mike Gin requested at the meeting a detailed breakdown of the effects sequestration will have for Redondo Beach, and asked that it be prepared before the March 12 meeting of the Housing Authority.

“This is very troubling and particularly for a program that means a lot to a number of people in our community that we’ve been fortunate enough to support… We need to understand what steps are going to be taken to minimize, if you will, the damage,” Gin said.

The Aerospace Industries Association estimates over 160,000 jobs will be lost in California’s defense and aerospace industries. Owing to its reliance on the technology, defense, and aerospace industries, Workman told Easy Reader, Redondo Beach is likely to take a big hit, albeit indirect.

“[This] means fewer jobs in the South Bay and there will be spin-off effects – impacts to retail sales, values of homes, the capacity for both individuals and businesses to provide funding for non-profits, churches, social service organizations,” he said.

Other ways sequestration could affect Redondo Beach include cuts to the Coast Guard budget, which would saddle the Redondo Beach Harbor Patrol with additional responsibilities.

“The cuts will have an impact on increasing the amount of services we’re going to have to provide to backfill cuts in the federal budget,” Workman said.

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