Hundreds losing housing subsidies when sequester hits

SPOKANE, Wash. - There appears to be no deal to avoid $85 Billion in automatic federal spending cuts that take effect at midnight, and some of that money will be cut from housing subsidies for people living in Spokane.

The sequester will hit home -- literally -- for hundreds of local disabled, elderly and working poor who rely on vouchers from the Spokane Housing Authority to make ends meet each month.

"If you think of worst case that means initially maybe they'd have to double up with another family, or worse case they become homeless," Steve Cervantes, executive director of the Spokane Housing Authority, said.

Sequester housing voucher cuts

The Spokane Housing Authority oversees five counties and 5,000 people that need help making rent. If the sequester takes effect Friday he foresees 364 people cut from the voucher program as well as four full-time staff members.

Cervantes said these cuts will have a domino affect.

"Individual clients might be affected, if they're not affected their neighbors can be affected, the landlords can be affected that means there'll be less rent," he said.

They prepared the best they could for this type of scenario. Last year, they increased the number of occupants in a HUD house to two per bedroom; though clients were unhappy, that saved them $1.3 million.

Unfortunately, with sequester hours away it's still not enough.

"We knew sequestration was part of the formula, we thought that they would deal with it, unfortunately it hasn't been dealt with and it's going to be a major impact," Cervantes said.

Whether the cuts of the sequester are immediate the Spokane Housing Authority doesn't know. But, if it does take effect, they have only weeks before clients will start getting cut from the voucher program.