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Southern Nevada housing authority may use reserves for rental subsidies

Updated January 23, 2019 - 10:56 pm

The Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority is considering dipping into $13 million of its reserves to cover rental assistance payments in March if the federal funding stream for the subsidies dries up because of the ongoing government shutdown.

The money would pay private landlords who rent to low-income, elderly or disabled people enrolled in the Housing Choice Voucher program, commonly known as Section 8. Such action will not need to be taken if the shutdown is resolved by the end of February.

Some 11,000 Clark County households are enrolled in the program. It houses about 30,000 tenants, including 18,000 children. The cost of rental subsidies totals about $9 million a month, according to the housing authority.

The Section 8 program allows tenants to pay 30 percent of their monthly adjusted gross income toward rent and utilities; federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development covers the rest. HUD funding should last through February, according to a letter the housing authority is preparing to send all tenants and landlords participating in the program.

The letter urges landlords not to start eviction proceedings — which can put a family on the street in as little as nine calendar days in Nevada — if the government is late paying rent. Any outstanding debts to landlords will be paid in full when the government shutdown ends, the letter states.

However, the Code of Federal Regulations states a Section 8 tenant cannot be evicted because the government does not pay its rental subsidy. Similar language is included in Housing Assistance Payments contracts between Section 8 landlords and public housing agencies.

“The tenant is not responsible for paying the portion of rent to owner covered by the (public housing agency) housing assistance payment under the (Housing Assistance Payments) contract between the owner and the (public housing agency),” the contracts state. “A (public housing agency) failure to pay the housing assistance payment to the owner is not a violation of the lease. The owner may not terminate the tenancy for nonpayment of the (public housing agency) housing assistance payment.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Section 8 tenants could face eviction if the government did not pay their federal rental subsidy; nonpayment of a housing assistance payment by the government is not grounds for eviction.

This story has also been updated to more accurately reflect which portions of the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority’s reserve funds could be used to supplement the Housing Choice Voucher program.

Letter to HCV Participants and Owners by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

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