As the federal government shutdown drags on, I have received a couple of questions about what happens to Section 8 payments during the government shut down. If you are a landlord that has tenants with subsidies, you may be feeling a little anxious. While no one has all the answers, let me give you some of the information I have compiled which will help you plan.
Is Section 8 open during the government shutdown?
Section 8 is open and running and working. This is a program that is a county or city managed department that gets funding from the federal government. Their offices are open, inspections are happening and there are no plans to shut down.
How about Section 8 payments?
It appears that most Section 8 agencies have money to last through the end of February. After that point, we are hearing mixed signals if they will pay and/or maybe they can pull money from another fund. One option I hear (non-official) was that Hennepin County could consider reducing food stamp vouchers and diverting money to rent payments. Here are more specific details for Minneapolis and St. Paul:
- Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. On their official Facebook account, they published this note: The federal government shutdown puts a lot of the funding for affordable housing at risk. While MPHA can tap reserves to continue programs and payments past February, it would be a painful and short-term fix. Meanwhile, the urgency for other housing providers is mounting. Go to MPHA here.
- St. Paul Public Housing Agency. Our contact at STPHA said: “HUD has funded voucher payments through February 28. The PHA will be able to issue February payments if the shutdown continues past February 1st. Housing Authorities have not received this assurance for funding beyond March 1st. The St. Paul PHA will continue to closely follow this issue, evaluation options, and gather information as the situation evolves.”
How about Non-Section 8 subsidies?
Many of our owners accept other subsidies such as: St. Stephens, Simpson Housing, and other non-profit. Most of these subsidies are funded by private donations or a combination of private and public funds. When I spoke to several of them, they stated that they are not affected by the government shut down the same as Section 8.
Can I evict my Section 8 tenant for non-payment?
Yes and no. You can always evict any tenant for not paying their portion of the subsidy. According to the contract you signed with HUD, you can NOT evict the tenant for Section 8’s failure to pay rent. I would not advise you test this as I am sure there is a free legal-aid attorney just waiting to make you their test case!
As a landlord of a Section 8 tenant, what are my options?
If you are a customer of Rental Management Guys, I recommend that you consult with your property manager if you have questions. I think all landlords should consider putting some cash away to safe keeping to pay a mortgage payment if needed (you should have this anyway). Maybe think about forgoing optional capital improvements.
In the short-term, nothing to do, but keep an eye on Washington!