HANO official had warned shutdown would prevent rent distribution
David Gilmore, the federal receiver who oversees the Housing Authority of New Orleans, said this week the federal government shutdown might prevent the agency from making its monthly rent payments to Section 8 landlords in November. But the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, which funnels the money to HANO, said Wednesday that there is no cause for worry.
HANO receives about $13 million a month from the federal government to make rent payments on behalf of the 17,000 New Orleans families living in Section 8 housing.
In a note to tenants and landlords posted to HANO’s website on Tuesday, Gilmore said HANO had not received the November remittance.
“(Housing Choice Voucher Program) landlords and tenants should know that, unless we receive the funds necessary to pay November rents, we will not be making these payments on Nov. 1,” Gilmore said.
“Landlords should use the time between now and then to prepare, though we all hope this serious problem is resolved before then.”
HUD said landlords and tenants need not worry.
The federal government has money set aside to make payments to HANO at least through the end of the year, even if Congress fails to reach an agreement on a funding bill and the federal government remains partially shut down, HUD spokesman Jerry Brown said.
“We have money through December, so I have no idea what HANO is talking about here,” Brown said. “This is alarming tenants for no reason. HUD has money. Tenants should not worry.”
This is the second time in as many weeks that HANO and HUD seem to have gotten their wires crossed.
Last week, Gilmore, again on the HANO website, said the Housing Authority would not be able to pay landlords in October because the government shutdown had left HUD without money to pay the month’s rent. In its response, HUD said the payments would be made, but that they had been delayed by a “processing glitch.”
Landlords typically receive automatic deposits for one month’s rent at the start of each month. The October payments were sent out on Oct. 7.
Even if HANO is unable to cover its portion of Section 8 rent payments for November or some later month, Gilmore said, tenants should still pay their share of rent.
He said the roughly 8,000 landlords who participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program are barred from kicking out tenants who pay their share of the rent, but are free to expel those who don’t.
“I have heard some loose talk that some landlords will try to evict tenants if HANO does not make Housing Assistance Program rent payments in November,” Gilmore wrote in the note on HANO’s website. “Landlords should know that eviction cannot happen if the tenant pays his/her portion of the monthly rent.”
Landlords who attempt to evict renters who do pay their share will be considered to have committed a “serious breach” of their responsibility, Gilmore said.
The penalty for that breach can include a reduction of housing assistance payments, termination of housing assistance payments and termination of the landlord’s housing assistance program contract.