Section 8 program benefits tenants and landlords and deserves more federal funding

BRATTLEBORO — I have been surprised that there was no mention anywhere of the very well run (locally by the Brattleboro, and Vermont State Housing Authority) HUD Section 8 housing subsidy program.

As a landlord, I have long appreciated the benefits of the program for both tenants and landlords, and I have made a pitch to our representatives in Washington, D.C.:

“Our current global pandemic, as difficult as it is for almost everyone, is also a chance to make some long overdue changes to our national priorities.

“The one that most directly improve the situation for both landlords and tenants is correcting the severe underfunding of HUD's Section 8 program.

“If Section 8, like food stamps, were treated more like an entitlement than a lottery, the adverse effects of this pandemic, or any other hiccup that might affect our economy or sense of peace and security, would be greatly reduced. All without the need for a mad scramble on the part of our governmental institutions, resulting in scattershot and poorly vetted responses.

“The most obvious result for landlords is a more predictable cash flow, not only due to the reliability of the subsidy portion, but because it incentivizes the tenants to pay their portion, so as not to lose their subsidy. This reduces both losses from non-payment and turnover-related costs.

“In addition, positive effects and related savings would be realized in areas as wide-ranging as mental and physical health, homelessness, and the related lifelong effects on children who grow up in families whose living situation is insecure.

“Even if you are not directly experiencing insecurity in your housing, the effects cannot be avoided. If you ever were the target of a panhandler, experienced theft, or had a child in school where schoolmates were disruptive or otherwise demanded extra attention from teachers, and therefore had their education compromised, your quality of life is diminished.

“If that is not enough incentive, it is well documented that the societies that invest in a healthy, well-educated, secure, and equal citizenry have healthier and more stable economies.”

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch eventually responded that it would be a “heavy lift,“ when they are in the middle of doling out trillions of dollars (?!).

Neither Sen. Bernie Sanders nor Sen. Patrick Leahy responded after several inquiries and conversations with staff.

I urge you to investigate why this has not been pursued as a solution.

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