Budget cuts affect city housing assistance

NORFOLK - Fewer people are getting housing assistance in Norfolk and some people are receiving less assistance than in the past.  Sheila Miller, executive director of the Norfolk Housing Agency, says budget cuts, including federal sequestration, are to blame. She says the city had contracted with the federal government to provide assistance to 254 families in the past, but that number has been reduced to 230. Miller says another policy protects services to the elderly, disabled and working families. She says non-working families are being asked to find jobs, and working families are asked to increase the hours they work each week.  Miller says funding is down 31-percent this year, and further cuts are expected next year. There are no local or state funds available to replace the lost federal dollars. She says about 60 percent of those receiving rental assistance in Norfolk are elderly or disabled.  Miller says another policy change affects the size of apartment or home for qualifying families. She says money is now allocated on a two-person per bedroom occupancy rate, forcing some families to move to smaller homes or contribute more of the rent from their own resources.