Our View: Not too late for Section 8
December 20, 2008
Moffat County stands to lose a valuable program if area groups don’t step up.
The Grand Junction Housing Authority recently took over Moffat County’s 72 Section 8 housing vouchers, which pay a portion of the rent for individuals and families based on income and number of children in the home.
The program was taken away from the Independent Life Center, a Craig-based organization, which couldn’t afford to hire another full-time staff member to keep up with necessary tasks, including inspections. Evelyn Tileston, ILC executive director, also couldn’t review program files because she is legally blind.
If a local organization or government agency can’t take over the program when the Housing Authority’s contract with the county expires in June 2010, Moffat County’s Section 8 vouchers will gradually leak away to Mesa County as they are vacated.
Eventually, Moffat County could lose all its vouchers.
We can’t let that happen.
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The Section 8 housing program was designed for people who can’t afford housing on their own. They include the elderly, people with disabilities and low-income families.
The editorial board isn’t asking residents to be their brothers’ keepers. But, as human beings, we have a responsibility to help one another as much as we can.
The board urges the county, and especially the Moffat County Housing Authority, to seriously consider administering Section 8 vouchers when the state contract ends.
A program that helps provide affordable housing naturally seems to fall under the Housing Authority’s purview. The Garfield County Housing Authority, for instance, administers Section 8 vouchers for Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties.
Local control over vouchers isn’t a given in this area. In Carbon County, Wyo., for example, vouchers are administered out of Cheyenne.
We can follow this model and let the voucher program transfer to Mesa County permanently in the hope that the Grand Junction Housing Authority will allot some vouchers to Moffat County.
But Mesa County has its own housing needs, and we believe our residents shouldn’t bank on receiving leftovers.
At last week’s commission meeting, Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray said the county wants to keep vouchers in the area, if possible.
Commissioners should take another step further and look at their budget to determine a way to financially support the program.
But the county government isn’t the only entity that can pick up administration of Section 8 housing in Moffat County.
Any organization that has enough manpower to run the program could – and should – take the initiative to do so. However, groups that chose to take on the program should make sure they have enough help and are able to comply with the state’s standards.
Whoever takes over Section 8 housing vouchers, whether it be the county or a local organization or business, should take some time to prepare for the task be ready to do it right.
Moffat County has until 2010 to make a plan for taking back Section 8. Let’s use that time wisely.