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GCHA facing more cuts in HUD funding

Community already stepping forward to provide support

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 8:20 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 8:41 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo provided)
Marilyn Yuhas of Maria’s Ristorante, left, and Char Potts enjoy a wine sample during the Feeney’s Package Liquors annual wine and beer tasting, which benefitted the Grundy County Housing Authority this year.

The Grundy County Housing Authority’s funding has once again been cut and will likely result in a reduction in staff hours.

Brent Newman, CEO of the GCHA, said they received a letter last week stating that, starting March 1, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will fund them 19 percent less than HUD calculates a housing authority needs to be “well run.”

“Well run” is a HUD term used to describe 100 percent of the amount necessary to effectively operate a public housing program, said Newman.

“This does not include any cuts that could come with sequestration, and it assumes Congress will appropriate the same amount to HUD as it did last year,” he said.

Newman said that, locally, they will be planning for additional cuts since the 19 percent doesn’t include the possible effects of the sequester.

For the Grundy housing authority, this is $2,600 less a month than what HUD says they need. Over the next 10 months, that is $26,000.

The loss in funding will likely result in a reduction in staff hours.

“So that translates into longer wait times for applicants who need housing, longer wait times for residents who have maintenance issues, and, ultimately, fewer services for the community,” said Newman.

Although the GCHA has started numerous new fundraising programs already, it will be depending on others’ generosity even more.

“It’s up to us to take care of each other,” said Newman. “We’re doing our level best to take care of this community and we can only hope this community can help take care of us.”

On Saturday, the community already started stepping up. More than $10,000 was raised at the Feeney’s Package Liquors annual wine and beer tasting.

The event raises money for local charities, and this year the beneficiary was the GCHA. Almost 300 people attended.

“It gives us an opportunity to show off some of the many wines and craft beer that Feeney’s has to offer and, at the same time, we are able to give back to the community,” said Mike Feeney, owner.

“When we heard of (the GCHA’s) situation and need for funding, it made sense to give the proceeds to them. Feeney’s tasting has now given back just over $80,000 to local charities and families in need over the past seven years,” he continued.

The timing of this fundraiser could not have been better with the recent HUD announcement, said Newman, and the GCHA is so appreciative to Feeney Package Liquors and the other businesses that donated.

Maria’s Ristorante and the Morris VFW were also part of the event, plus numerous volunteers.

“It was an incredible evening,” said Newman. “We were so happy to see such a great turn out to support the work we do to help low income elderly and people with disabilities.

The next fundraiser to help support the GCHA will be from 6 to 9 p.m. April 13 at Goose Lake Hall, 3935 Goose Lake Road, Morris.

It will be an Irish evening with entertainment from the Irish duo Sean Gavin and Kelsey Lutz and a corn beef and cabbage dinner.

VIP tickets, which include dinner, entertainment and preferred seating, are $25 and are available in advance only. For entertainment only, tickets are $15 and are available in advance and at the door.

Doors are open at 5:30 p.m., dinner is from 6 to 7 p.m., and the show is from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at gcha.us or at the housing authority office at 1802 Division St. in Morris.

To see the full letter the GCHA received from HUD, and for more information on how to donate, visit www.gcha.us.

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