Hard Times, Big Plans
She recognizes the dangers of the current situation. "The housing commission's primary funding is from HUD, through public housing and housing vouchers, and every year Congress cuts the budget," Hall says. "Right now we have the reserves to cover the deficit. But if it stays the same, we'll have to cut staff and programs. The housing commission needs to change if we're going to survive."
Hall's solution is to diversify the revenue stream. "It is absolutely possible," she says. "The single greatest source of revenue for affordable rental housing is low-income housing tax credits, an IRS program using private capital. In addition, there are other HUD funding sources, like Community Development Block Grants, HOME funds, Section 811, and others. The VA has vouchers and funding for development, as [do] private foundations and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. It's not easy to do, but we have to do it."
While HUD has less money to support public housing, Hall adds, more vouchers are available to help low-income individuals who rent privately owned housing. "Those vouchers can also be used in these affordable housing developments, like Avalon Housing does, to subsidize the rent," Hall explains.