Abilene Housing Authority Board vote means increased cost to renters

ABILENE, Texas - Budget cuts due to sequestration hit the Abilene Housing Authority last month.

Thursday, the AHA board voted to pass two changes that will affect the amount of rent program recipients will pay.

Gene Reed, executive director, said the sequestration caused a 5.1 percent across-the-board budget cuts.

Because of those cuts, the board approved two big changes to the Housing Choice Voucher program.

The first will require program recipients to pay a higher rental rate immediately if they receive a pay raise. In the past, the AHA evaluated recipients incomes just once a year. Meaning if they received an income bump days after an evaluation, they would continue to pay the lower rate through the following year- until the next evaluation.

The second change will reduce the payment standard. Each year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issues a fair market rent rate to set the average price of rent for an area. That dictates how much the AHA can spend on a tenant's rent.

That maximum rate has now been lowered 10 percent.

Reed said although he wishes the cuts would not have happened, making these changes will allow the AHA to help a greater number of people, though less money will go to each family.

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