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Funding restored for housing authority post

Friday, February 22, 2013 - Updated: 5:09 PM

By REBECCA WEBSTER

Recorder News Staff

The Amsterdam Housing Authority recently won a battle with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) over an underfunded position.

At the end of November, Amsterdam Housing Authority Executive Director Richard Miller told the AHA Board of Commissioners that HUD managed to make an error in their notice of funding availability for the agency's Family Self Sufficiency Coordinator.

A Section 8 program, Family Self Sufficiency provides certain individuals with services -- like job training and help getting into schools -- to encourage self-sufficiency in those residents.

The AHA pays for a full-time $58,000 position with the funding, Miller said at the time, but the local housing authority was told that the funding for the position would be nearly cut in half.

But on Wednesday, it was announced to the board at their Board of Commissioners meeting that the AHA won the fight, which was not only affecting the local authority but many others across the country.

Damares Carbone, Section 8 Director for the AHA, had the chance to breath a sigh of relief after the meeting.

"When funding gets cut, we have to figure out why and there was no rhyme or reason as to why we got cut," she said. "So in researching, we found out it was HUD's error."

Miller said after the Wednesday meeting that it was a struggle but in the end it came out fruitful.

He explained that U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko's office and the two national housing authority groups were instrumental in making it happen, but it was the local authority that initially brought it to one of those organization's attention.

"The Public Housing Authority Directors association, I was actually the one that told them," Miller said. "I was the first and the National Association of Housing Officials already knew because they had had some conference that they were at and they got nailed by some of the members that were there about this."

"But the important thing was they were able to give HUD good data to prove to them very quickly that it was bogus."

Losing half the funding, he continued, would be catastrophic for a smaller authority in the long run.

"They (HUD) actually admitted it (the error) and even put it in their new award letter, which is unusual," Miller said. "Sometimes they will quietly undo something they had done. ... But the fact that we were able to prevail upon them was a good thing."

     

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