New Chattanooga Housing Authority policies take effect November 1st
As the Chattanooga Housing Authority deals with cuts in funding from the federal government, new policies are about to go into effect to help stretch dollars. CHA is following the lead of several other housing authorities across the country.
Starting November 1st, those who participate in the Section 8 housing voucher program will have to play by new rules. For the housing authority, it comes down to pinching pennies.
"We have 1,300 on our waiting list now. There are definitely people out there who need the program," says Tammie Carpenter.
Tammie Carpenter oversees the housing voucher program for the Chattanooga Housing Authority. Since 2005, CHA has had to make staffing cuts, already cutting four staff members this year.
"It's been a gradual cut. We haven't received 100 percent on administrative fees in years," says Carpenter.
On top of that, CHA is busy trying to serve those in need of housing assistance.
"Our program's actually grown," she says.
About 3,500 people live in Section 8 housing now compared to about half of that in 2000. In order to keep serving that amount, new policies are going into effect on November first.
"We are going to a two person per bedroom policy and that will reduce the portion that we pay."
CHA has also adopted a precautionary policy; if funding continues to dry up, those on the program the longest could be cut first.
"If it reaches a point where we can't serve the families we have on the program with the money that they're giving us, then we will have cut families from the program," says Carpenter.
"It's a blessing to me," says Tameka Underwood, who lives in Section 8 housing.
Underwood been on her own since 14 years old and is raising three kids. She has been on Section 8 for 12 years.
"Without it, this is 800 (dollars). I won't be able to afford my lights, my water, me and my kids would just be in the house without no heat and no lights."
It would also affect Section 8 landlords, like Barbara Lawrence.
"It'll stink on both ends," says Lawrence. "The landlord loses out and the tenant loses out."
Lawrence says the cuts would have ripple effects.
"I depend on that because I have bills myself. So I depend on that income from that house."
She and Underwood both hope the program can stay afloat.
"It would be a struggle. It would be a struggle if we didn't have it," says Underwood.
Other housing agencies across the country have turned the Section 8 program back over to HUD because they could not afford to run it. CHA says if it ever comes to cutting the longest-served families, they would be first in line on the waiting list, once funding returns.