The federal budget cuts known as the sequestration could mean fewer poor families will receive rent subsidies from the Metropolitan Council's Section 8 housing program.
The Section 8 housing choice voucher program is a federally funded rent assistance program for extremely low-income families. There are 11 housing authorities in the metro area that offer them. Families pay 30 percent of their income toward their rent, and the housing subsidy makes up the difference with payments directly to landlords.
The Met Council says that the cuts will reduce the program funding by about 5 percent, or about $2.5 million a year, and stretch the projected average waiting period for assistance to as much as eight years.
As many as 500 families could be cut from the rental assistance program.
"We serve approximately 6,200 families through the program, and by the end of the year, we will need to drop down to between 5,800 and 5,700," said Beth Reetz, the council's director of housing and livable communities.
The Metropolitan Council is taking action to cushion the impact of the cuts, by drawing $1.5 million in reserve funds to put into the program. Reetz said her agency hopes that will help reduce the number of families it serves by attrition, rather than ending anyone's existing housing assistance. About 45 families a month leave the program, she said.