CAIRO — Despite drastic cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the White House’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget, agency officials feel sure the relocation efforts within the Alexander County Housing Authority will go untouched.
HUD spokesman Jerry Brown said despite a proposal that would zero out the capital fund and provide more flexibility to operating funds — operating funds provide day-to-day funding for housing authorities while the capital fund goes to modernizing and updating housing developments — the ACHA and its residents shouldn’t feel an effect, at least for this calendar year. He said this is primarily because plans and contracts are already in place.
“The relocation/mobility contracts are already in place and the (tenant protection vouchers) have been authorized," Brown wrote in an email Tuesday.
A HUD spokesman said repairing the units in Thebes could bankrupt the Alexander County Housing Authority.
That said, there will still be at least two high-rise buildings left in Cairo — HUD has plans to demolish both the Elmwood and McBride housing developments in town as well as to sell the Mary Alice Meadows and Sunset Terrace complexes in Thebes.
Brown said no one can predict the future of what funding will look like, but he noted that there is a chance that parts of the budget could remain the same — the proposed budget is not set in stone and has to be approved by Congress. If this happens and the ACHA has four fewer properties in its portfolio, Brown said the authority could stand to be on better footing than it is currently.
“If the capital funding remains the same beyond 2018, you're performing maintenance on far fewer units, you're paying substantially less for utilities and you've rid ACHA of some long-term payments that were soaking the agency,” Brown wrote in an email.
Monday’s budget announcement comes less than a week after the White House signed a two-year bipartisan spending measure which, according to an AP report, earmarks an added $2 billion for HUD on top their current spend levels. The report explains that this was to avoid rent increases for the disabled and the elderly. It also says some of that money was added to aid public housing authorities.
Brown said while these two events seem be at odds with each other, there is a system. He said after the spending plan is passed by Congress, cabinet secretaries must then present their own budgets that then have to be approved — this is where the wish list from the White House may or may not come in.