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Public housing tenants could be next victims of the government shutdown

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Senior citizens and families who live in government housing could be the next victims of the partial government shutdown.

Reports show that more than one thousand federal housing contracts have expired since the shutdown started. That puts tenants at risk of eviction because the government shutdown forces landlords to use their own money to keep things running. 

In March the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 8 voucher program runs out. More than one million low-income families use it, many of whom are disabled or elderly. Huntsville Housing Authority reports about one third of the people in their public housing are elderly.

Huntsville Housing Authority officials said in a statement that the people affected by expiring contracts refers to project-based contracts and they do not have any of those. But those who live and work at public housing in Huntsville are frustrated.

"There's people that's gonna be evicted and can't feed their children because the government is shutting down," said Marcus Thompson. "They need to do something positive and get us back open."

"Not to mention the food stamps these people out here gonna be getting," added Travis Phifer. "Food stamps and everything else gonna be in jeopardy and it's crazy. It's just crazy."

Donna Johnson, who goes by Miss Dee and is the president of Northwoods Resident Council, says some people in her public housing community have lived there for 60 years. She says they haven't felt much of the shutdown's effects yet, but will if it continues.

The same goes for the Athens Housing Authority, where employees are concerned for their jobs.

"I've had employees worried about, 'how long is this gonna last?' What are we gonna do?'" said Executive Director Larry Pippins. "The answer is, I really don't know what we're gonna do. I hope it doesn't last, but it could get to the point where we might have to send somebody home."

He believes the shutdown will end before the money runs out in February.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, HUD sent letters to 1500 landlords about how to prevent evicting their tenants who are covered by Section 8.


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