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GHURA's budget falls short

by Jolene Toves

Guam - Management at the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority are rolling up their sleeves trying to craft a budget. But with the fiscal realities in Washington, GHURA could see some hard times ahead.

With the new fiscal year around the corner GHURA is doing the math to come up with a final FISCAL YEAR 2014 budget. Unlike line agencies, GHURA's budget is not subject to legislative approval. "We pushed back the review of this budget to next week because we are in communication of Honolulu HUD office to determine if our revenue projections are overly pessimistic or on target," said GHURA executive director Michael Duenas. He added at this point they are projecting a shortfall of 200-thousand dollars which will affect administrative staffing and housing assistance payments.

He adds what is definite is that GHURA's budget must be in place for the next fiscal year, which begins October 1st and is ultimately dependent upon Congress. "Once we get that number we will be in a better position to determine just how much we can budget for housing assistance payments right now we are looking at about $33 million," he said.

However if another round of sequestration kicks in as a result of congress not approving a budget before October 1st then GHURA is looking at an automatic cut of 5% across the board to include the Section 8 program.

"So that's impacting on our ability to assist as many families as we can we have gone from 2,400 families in March to 2,360 families," he said.

He says GHURA is looking at having to continue the attrition process to reduce the overall monthly cost of the program to stay within the available funding received from HUD. He adds that they have already eaten into their reserves. Once $2.4 million is now down to $1.8 million, this is below the ideal reserve which should be equivalent to one month's worth of housing assistance expenses.

"But the worst case scenario is that we continue to reduce through attrition and that's probably something that may continue into January of next year," he said.

The downside is a double-edged sword, Duenas says reducing the number of vouchers issued to stay within the available funding also reduces the amount of management fees collected which directly affects their ability to maintain the support and administrative staff for the programs. 

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