Two York City employees have lost their jobs, a result of cuts to federal dollars that directly fund city housing programs.
With $450,000 less to work with this year compared to 2011, the city has also eliminated its rental-assistance program -- which Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Schreiber called "homelessness prevention 101."
A second program for income-eligible homeowners in critical need of home repairs has been drastically downsized, though a small amount of money remains in the home-rehab budget for true emergencies, Schreiber said.
The York City Council approved the reductions Tuesday, a few weeks after receiving official word from the federal Housing and Urban Development Department of the city's 2012 allocation of community development block grants and the low-income affordable housing HOME program. The total allocation is about $1.2 million in CDBG funds and $350,000 for HOME.
Tuesday's vote solidified a plan to spend that money. City officials have known since December about how much money HUD would allocate to
York, Schreiber said. When official word arrived a few weeks ago, little had changed.
Realizing a drastic cut was around the corner, Schreiber said he and Mayor Kim Bracey met late last year with HUD officials, who distribute CDBG funding to local governments nationwide. The total allocation comes from Congress.
"We asked. We begged. We pleaded. We told them about the reductions that this would cause and trigger," Schreiber said. "But I respect and appreciate that their hands are tied and there wasn't much they could do. But we felt that it behooved us to try."
About the funds: CDBG funds can be spent on a variety of local projects, including economic development, infrastructure improvements and services for the poor.
There is a silver lining despite the cuts, Schreiber said. York County officials have agreed to help city residents who need rental assistance or low-interest loans for critical home repairs.
"They essentially said they'll absorb the city's applications," Schreiber said.
That offer made it possible for the city to maintain its first-time homebuyer program, he said.
York County has traditionally reserved its HUD funding for county residents who do not live in the city, Schreiber said. That's because the city is the only one of York County's 72 municipalities that is a "participating jurisdiction," meaning it receives funding directly from HUD.
The two full-time employees who lost their jobs focused primarily on the rental assistance and home-repair programs. They were let go in March, Schreiber said. Their salaries added up to about $70,000 and had been fully funded by CDBG money.
The city didn't really have a choice, Schreiber said, because the city's annual CDBG allocation comes with a cap on administrative funding, which includes salaries. With such a drastic cut, the amount of money left over for administrative costs was not enough to support the five-person housing bureau, Schreiber said.
Mayor Kim Bracey did not want to support the positions from the city's property-tax-supported general fund, he added.
-- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or ejame firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ydcity.