Knox and Guilderland reach Sect. 8 agreement

ALBANY COUNTY — Guilderland residents in need of Section 8 housing will be able to use some vouchers from neighboring Knox, which has more than it currently needs, allowing the larger town to reduce its waiting list a modest amount while Knox retains control of its own program.

Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program subsidizes housing costs for families in need, who benefit by being able to live near jobs, and/or services for the elderly or disabled, depending on their specific circumstance. 

In Guilderland, with a population of around 39,000, eighty-six of the 91 families receiving housing assistance last March were either elderly or disabled. The town has a waiting list of around 200 families, which hadn’t changed in five years as of last September, as The Enterprise reported. 

Knox, meanwhile, with a population of around 3,000, has no waiting list, and has typically found it difficult to fill its allocations, of which it has a little more than a dozen.

That discrepancy made it attractive for the administrator of the towns’ programs — JEM, Inc. — to attempt a consolidation.

“I think it is [the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s] intention that smaller programs and underutilized programs be carefully scrutinized to see whether or not they’re going to continue or whether they’re viable,” Nancie Williams, JEM’s Outreach and Home Program coordinator, told The Enterprise this week. “It’s certainly our goal to keep all of these programs viable and preserve the funding in our geography.”

She said that JEMs will “follow whatever HUD’s lead is relative to making sure that we keep those funds and preserve them in whatever way we have to.”

Knox, however, rejected the consolidation in November, leading to a workaround. 

Williams explained this week that under the current setup, “Knox is essentially still administering the program, they just have people on their vouchers out of territory, where if the consolidation had gone through, the two programs would have covered a geography of both Guilderland and Knox, with the operation of that combined program under Guilderland.”

She said that it’s “not a formal agreement,” but an “operations kind of thing that allows us to utilize the funds, because as long as the program remains underutilized, there’s always the possibility that HUD could request the return of those.”

Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber told The Enterprise the town received between 14 and 17 housing slots. 

“I think it’s going to work out fine for people looking for housing, whether they live in Knox or Guilderland, and you won’t have credits that are basically unused,” Knox Supervisor Russ Pokorny told The Enterprise.

Williams told The Enterprise last year that the number of slots depends on the portion of federal funds used for each family. “We pay a higher amount for lower incomes,” she said.

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