FORT WAYNE – The Fort Wayne Housing Authority is taking over operations for its Adams County counterpart.
Fort Wayne Housing Authority board members voted 4-0 Tuesday to accept a management agreement with the Decatur Housing Authority, taking over its Housing Choice Voucher program in a deal expected to begin Jan. 1.
The Housing Choice Voucher program, formerly known as Section 8, allows low-income people to rent any apartment where the landlord accepts vouchers. Tenants pay 30 percent of their income toward the rent, and the federal government pays the rest through a local housing authority.
But the fees the federal department of Housing and Urban Development pays agencies to operate the program have been cut by about one-third. In Fort Wayne, that has meant the loss of two of the programs nine employees and a slowing of the pace at which families are being added to the program to replace those who leave. The agency pays for about $1.3 million worth of vouchers a month.
The Decatur Housing Authority had two employees. The budget cuts first meant cutting one person to part time, then letting that person go, leaving only the executive director to handle the 178 vouchers by herself.
Because of jurisdictional issues and because other moves would be permanent, FWHA Executive Director Maynard Scales said the best option is a management agreement, in which the Fort Wayne Housing Authority is hired by the Decatur agency to run its program. The agreement approved Tuesday is for two years.
In the meantime, FWHA staff is helping DHA open its waiting list so it can have as many vouchers issued as possible during the fourth quarter. HUD bases annual funding levels on the vouchers issued in the fourth quarter of the year before, so having more issued will make more available next year. Of the 178 authorized, DHA has 161 issued.