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Tuesday October 13, 2015
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Surviving the Sequester



surprise bipartisan budget deal offered hope.

Jennifer Hall, head of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, says the sequester was terrible: "Our cuts for the last six months were $300,000, money we would have spent on maintenance, operations, and staff." Only a last-minute appropriation from city council got the commission through the year.

"We've created an invisibility around the impact," says Mary Jo Callan, director of the joint city-county Community and Economic Development office. "Most people don't see it because we cut staff rather than services."

Callan's department has a $15 million budget this year, and about $12 million of that comes from the feds. The money mostly goes to human services and workforce development, but also to affordable housing repair, purchase, and development; targeted economic development; community infrastructure improvements; brownfield redevelopment; and historic preservation.

The housing commission's hit went beyond the cuts that city council covered, because it also administers federal Section 8 housing vouchers, which subsidize rents in private apartments. "We have about eighty vouchers less than last year," Hall says, "and there's no other money or funding to fill in."

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