Shutdown puts low-income renters at risk of losing housing

Published: Jan. 11, 2019 at 10:42 PM CST
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The government has been shutdown for three-weeks and with no end in sight Bernadette Merritt and Vicky Conradson are preparing for the worst.

"You have a home, or you have your medicine," said Conradson, "You have a home, or you have food in your stomach."

For 10-years the two women have lived at Scoville Center apartments in Beloit. It's an affordable housing complex contracted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The department has been closed since December 22, 2018 due to the shutdown.

"It's the home of more than 150 people," said Conradson.

"And the ages range from in their 20's and our oldest resident is 105," said Merritt.

Merritt said rental subsidies for all the residents expires in March.

"If I don't get that voucher in March, I'll probably be homeless, or I'll have a home and no medicine," said Conradson.

Nationwide, more than more than 1,000 government contracts have expired and more than 1-million, low-income families are at risk of losing their home.

Apartments with HUD contracts have renters pay 30 percent of their income, and the government covers the difference. When the contracts expire the rental costs can increase to market-rate.

The number of people at risk of losing their home will continue to rise until the President and Congress pass a budget.

"For them to play with our lives that this, I think it's utterly disgusting," said Merritt.

Conradson and Merritt said they will not just sit and wait for a compromise.

"You have to stand-up for what you believe in," said Merritt.

"I'm encouraging my family, my friends, social media, 'Pick up the phone and tell the senators, go back to work,'" said Conradson.