Nevada County officials worry federal budget cuts could impact housing here
March 13, 2018
Gustavo Becerra knew the proposed federal budget for the next fiscal year would impact Nevada County when he saw it for the first time.
The executive director of the Regional Housing Authority, Becerra said a proposed 5 percent cut to Section 8 vouchers would impact 88 people in his four-county area, which includes Nevada County.
Additional cuts to Community Development Block Grants would hurt the area's ability to develop affordable housing.
"This is the president's first stab at it for 2019," Becerra said of the proposed budget. "We don't expect the full cuts he's proposing, but we are expecting some cuts."
The draft budget led Becerra and Nevada County Supervisor Dan Miller to meet last month with U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa. Becerra said the congressman asked several questions, including what could be done at the local level. LaMalfa provided no assurances.
Contacted multiple times, LaMalfa's office provided no comment for this story.
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"We haven't heard anything back yet," said Miller, who recently updated supervisors during a regular meeting about the issue.
According to Becerra, cities and counties use block grants as loans to home owners for repairs, or to improve infrastructure like sewer and storm drains.
Becerra said the Section 8 vouchers are given to applicants who meet certain income requirements and pay a portion of someone's rent. They provide a $2.5 million per-year impact to Nevada County landlords.
Those vouchers, suspended for about five months because of budgeting restraints, were reissued in January.
Both of them — Community Development Block Grants and Section 8 vouchers — are necessary for the competition local governments face when vying for low-income tax credits.
Those tax credits, an IRS program, offset tax liabilities and enable the construction of affordable housing, Becerra said.
"We kind of laid it out," Becerra said of his conversation with LaMalfa. "Without these dollars, affordable housing kind of gets squashed."
Miller said the White House has stated it wants to end homelessness, and then penned a budget that removes tools for local governments to work toward that goal.
"Without that subsidy, those people couldn't afford market-rate rentals," he said of the Section 8 vouchers.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.