RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority has taken 163 families off the wait list for rent subsidies.
The RRHA is trying to find a way to keep the program going, while the federal government tries to come up with more money. Local officials worry if the funds dry up, many low income families could end up on the street.
The RRHA already helps 3,000 families make their rent through the housing choice voucher program, and in this economy, more families are signing for assistance than ever before. However, a federal shortfall had forced the RRHA to cut down the wait list for help.
Under the program, once a low income family finds a place to rent and signs a lease with a landlord, they pay 30% of their income towards the rent and the authority covers the difference."
Families were sent letters saying there's no money for them to join.
"We're trying to turn over every leaf, every rock to see if there's assistance available" said RRHA director Anthony Scott.
Scott is in Washington DC today meeting with Housing and Urban Development officials.
"We are working diligently with HUD to see if we can help Richmond resolve this problem so that we don't find ourselves having to cut people who are already on the program." Scott said.
Candice Street works for Virginia Supportive Housing, an agency that fights homelessness. She worries the funding shortage could lead to bigger problems.
"Families that can't double up. Families that don't have any other alternative are either going to find themselves in a shelter or living in their cars" Street said.
The RRHA has even alerted the mayor. It may need $420,000 from the city to cover rent subsidies for 84 families.
"While that sounds like a lot of money, the cost to the larger community is far greater if those 84 families have to rely on homeless service system or end up out on the street" said Street.
The mayor says he's committed to helping, but it's still unclear tonight what the need will be or where the money would come from.
The RRHA will meet with the families affected by the freeze on rent subsidies this Thursday from 6:00 to 7:30pm at the Calhoun Family Investment Center.