Housing authority misses out on stimulus

The Grand Junction Housing Authority won’t share in the millions of dollars the federal government is distributing to upgrade public housing.

In 2007, the authority sold the 30 apartments it used for public housing. That left the authority without any housing that would now qualify for funding under the federal stimulus plan.

“Those dollars that are earmarked for public housing will not come to Mesa County,” said Jody Kole, executive director of the housing authority.

“When we sold these 30 apartments, we applied for and received from (the Department of Housing and Urban Development) 30 vouchers which are much more flexible.”

The vouchers can be used by clients to offset their monthly rent.

Kole said many housing authorities across the state, not just Mesa County’s, have opted out of public housing because Housing and Urban Development rules and regulations are oppressive.

“It just became unwieldy,” Kole said. “We found a better way to serve our clients and operate more efficiently without the public housing program.”

The authority positioned itself out of the money for public housing, but it remains in the running for other funds from Washington.

Kole said the county could receive more housing assistance vouchers for veterans and funds for improving energy efficiency of some properties it manages.

Kole said the authority has 1,000 to 1,400 families on its waiting list for services.

“Our lobby is always busy,” she said.


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