Federal sequester keeps Section 8 waiting list long

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Mandatory federal budget cuts will have many in Forsyth County on a waiting list for housing vouchers that already has 4,000 people on it.

The Housing Choice Voucher program, formerly known as Section 8, receives 90% of its funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Normally, 30 to 40 families leave the program every month because they either no longer need the housing subsidy, or because they no longer qualify.

Those spots would then be filled by a family on the waiting list, but the sequester is forcing the Winston-Salem Housing Authority to leave those spots open.

WSHA COO Karen Durell said her group has been preparing for the sequester since late 2012.

"Knowing the possibility of this coming along we sort of stopped leasing any turnover vouchers at the end of last year. We built up some reserves in 2012," Durell said.

The program allows families to take housing vouchers to government-approved property owners on the open market. Requirements are based on family income and size.

Those receiving vouchers may continue doing so until they no longer need them or no longer qualify. The vouchers can even be transferred to other cities.

WSHA currently helps more than 4,000 people in Forsyth County.