Public housing residents grow concerned as government shutdown drags on

Public housing residents growing concerned as government shutdown drags on
Public housing residents growing concerned as government shutdown drags on
Updated: Jan. 16, 2019 at 9:21 PM CST
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - As the government shutdown approaches the month mark, more and more Americans are feeling the effects.

This week, a Facebook post from the Mississippi Regional Housing Authority left some South Mississippians wondering if their housing payments could be next.

Residents worried about housing payments
Residents worried about housing payments

One of the many agencies affected by the partial government shutdown is the Housing and Urban Development, which is responsible for funding Section 8 housing and payments. The longer the shutdown goes on, the more concerned residents in public housing are getting.

“My wife’s pregnant right now,” said Biloxi resident Derrick Kinsey. “We have another one on the way, and we’re already in this little bitty apartment. I mean, we’re about to lose our minds.”

Kinsey and his family have been living in public housing, waiting for their Section 8 voucher for years. Just as he found out they were approved, the shutdown took effect.

“I don’t know if it’s money, if they’re waiting on money from the government or what it is,” he said. “But, we were ready. We were about to pack our stuff and go, but now we just haven’t heard anything.”

While he is concerned, Biloxi Housing Authority Executive Director Helen Werby hopes to put Kinsey and others in his position at ease.

“It hasn’t affected our daily operations at all,” Werby said. “We’re funded through the end of February. So, as of right now our construction projects are ongoing. We’re fully funding the residents HAP payments. We’re paying our landlords. Things are going along just as expected.”

Werby wants residents to know it's important for those receiving government funds for housing to stick to their routine.

“The residents would not do anything different than they’ve ever done,” Werby said. “They need to continue to pay their rent in a timely manner, and everything else just flows the same way.”

Her biggest piece of advice: stay calm and trust in the program.

“We do not want our residents to panic or have any sense of fear at all,” she said. “We have a good history here of handling all kinds of crisis. We survived Katrina. We’ll survive this.”

She notes that the BHA has contingency plans in place in the case the shutdown lasts beyond February.

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