Cuts In Federal Rent Aid Are Squeezing Minnesota's Poor

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Cuts in federal rent aid are squeezing Minnesota’s poor | Star Tribune

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Cuts in federal rent aid are squeezing Minnesota’s poor Article by: CHRIS SERRES , Star Tribune

Updated: January 16, 2014 - 10:31 PM

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Brittannea Stevenson felt like she had “won the lottery” on the day she qualified for federal rental assistance after a two-year wait. A cashier at a Mankato Wal-Mart, Stevenson imagined finally buying her first car and a new pair of work shoes.

Uptown vibe goes upscale with high-end rentals She spent 60 grueling days scouring the North Mankato area, by public transit and taxi, for an affordable apartment and a landlord willing to accept her rental voucher, which would cover two-thirds of her rent.

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But her search ended quite unexpectedly two weeks before
Christmas, when her unused voucher was revoked because of budget cuts enacted by Congress last year. “I felt like my ticket out of poverty had been stolen from me,” said Stevenson, 29, who cut back to two meals a day to make ends meet.

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Across the state, low-income families are being squeezed by that same grim combination of scarce housing and unprecedented cuts to the federal government’s rental-assistance program, the Housing
Choice Voucher Program, known as Section 8.

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ELIZABETH FLORES • Housing Vouchers by the numbers

Number of Minnesotans with
Section 8 housing vouchers



Cuts in federal rent aid are squeezing Minnesota’s poor | Star Tribune

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Estimated number who could lose their vouchers by the end of 2014

Average annual household income of Minnesotans on
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Minnesota stands to lose up to 3,200 Section 8 vouchers by the end of this year, as the 2012 federal budget cuts take hold, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington. Already, more than 600 low-income tenants in the Twin Cities are scrambling to find new apartments or come up with hundreds of dollars per month to stay in their existing units.

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The cuts, the deepest in the program’s 40-year history, have destabilized poor families across the state, from Blue Earth County to the Iron Range, according to local officials. Parents unable to afford the higher rents find themselves seeking new housing and new schools for their children. Others say they are cutting back on food, heat and other necessities.

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