By Gary Walker
A resident of the 246-unit Breezes Del Mar affordable housing complex in Venice for nearly three decades, Kendra Moore has raised four daughters and three grandchildren at her Indiana Avenue apartment and formed lasting relationships with many of her neighbors.
But she and thousands of other public housing tenants on the Westside are bracing for life-altering consequences of anticipated rent hikes next year due to cuts in federal affordable housing subsidies.
The rent subsidy voucher reserves of the Housing Authority of the city of Los Angeles are expected to run out before the end of the year, forcing a program drawdown that could leave tenants like Moore paying about $200 more in rent each month, said housing authority President Douglas Guthrie.
“This has been a very difficult year,” Guthrie said. “I expect our Section 8 reserves to be depleted by the end of the year. Continuation of [federal budget] sequestration and funding at current levels will leas to lower subsidies for our Section 8 [rent voucher] participants.”
That affects more than 1,000 tenants of both Breezes Del Mar, the largest federally subsidized housing development west of Lincoln Boulevard, the 600-unit Mar Vista Gardens in Del Rey, as well as those living in other buildings that accept Section 8 vouchers.
For some of those living on low and fixed incomes, $200 could be enough to put some people out on the street or going without other necessities.
“My family and other families could lose everything if there are more cuts,” said Moore, 48, who works as a receptionist for the Santa Monica Boys & Girls Club and is president of Breezes Del Mar’s tenant action committee.
Guthrie said his agency as lost $46 million to the automatic federal spending cuts triggered by sequestration in March, a deficit that will continue to expand if reduced federal funding continues through January.
Bill Przylucki, executive director of the nonprofit People Organized for Westside Renewal in Santa Monica, said the recent federal government shutdown and postponement of Congress’ debt ceiling battle to January has stoked fears of even larger cuts to affordable housing supports.
“If [the shutdown] had continued the government would not have continued to pay the landlords, and tenants could have been in danger of being evicted,” Przylucki said.
Even under the status quo, “At some point there has to be another investment in public housing if we’re going to see these programs work,” he said.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D- Westchester), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, lamented cuts in federal housing supports.
“This is going to affect many of my constituents, but I promise that I will do all that I can to make sure that any further cuts will not be as severe,” she said.
If they do continue, “Where are people going to go?” asked Moore.