Archive for Wednesday, April 28, 1999

HUD GRANT TO HELP RESIDENTS MAINTAIN AFFORDABLE HOUSING

April 28, 1999

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Three Lawrence apartments are scheduled to lose federal affordable housing subsidies in the next 18 months.

HUD doesn't think Kansas needs to lose any more federally subsidized affordable housing.

Housing and Credit Counseling Inc. of Topeka has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to work with residents of three Lawrence apartment complexes -- and many more statewide -- where federal affordable housing contracts are expiring.

"We can work with them, and the tenants can work with the owners, to help them know that it's a good deal," said Curtis Brown, manager of the grant for Housing and Credit Counseling. "If the owners renew these programs, that would guarantee affordable housing in our area."

The federal grant program, called the Outreach and Technical Assistance Grant, will continue for three years.

The Topeka-based non-profit agency will work with residents, management companies, owners and government entities to find ways to preserve affordability of housing units.

The problem is that federal Section 8 subsidies granted to build the affordable apartment projects are expiring. That leaves owners to decide whether to convert their buildings to market-rate projects, a move that would allow them to increase rents, or to renew the subsidy programs.

If owners opt out of the program, tenants would be eligible for vouchers that would continue their federal assistance.

"The problem with that is the tenants could be forced to make up the difference" between what their federal subsidy covers and the new market-rate rental charges. That could amount to about $60 a month at the Lawrence projects, a jump that "could be very painful for most Social Security recipients," Brown said.

Including three in Lawrence, about 76 buildings statewide are eligible for assistance.

The Lawrence projects are Clinton Place, Prairie Ridge Place and Vermont Towers. Their Section 8 agreements expire over the next 15 months. Together, they have about 220 apartment units, Brown said.

Residents of Clinton Place recently organized to lobby Congress about protecting affordable housing.

Housing and Credit Counseling Inc. provides education and counseling on credit, debt repayment, budgeting, housing issues and home ownership. It has offices in Topeka, Manhattan, Emporia and Lawrence.

For more information on the grant program, contact Brown at (785) 234-0217.

-- Richard Brack's phone message number is 832-7194. His e-mail address is rbrack@ljworld.com.

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