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Housing assistance regulations changing

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

People who apply for Martinsville’s housing assistance program who have been convicted of crimes should be up front about it, a city official said.

If they are not, city officials will learn about their criminal histories through background checks, said Director of Community Development Wayne Knox.

A household will be ineligible for federal Section 8 rental assistance if any of its members are convicted of a crime that is violent in nature or drug-related, Knox told Martinsville City Council on Tuesday.

Households already in the program will be kicked out if anyone in them is convicted of such crimes, he emphasized.

Martinsville officials have revised the city’s Section 8 administrative plan to fit with new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rules.

The council set a public hearing for March 12 on the revised plan, which it must approve before sending the plan to HUD for final approval.

Knox said he thinks having to do federal background checks for Section 8 is “going to hurt a lot of people.”

“We’re going to have a lot more (people denied aid) than we care to deny,” he said.

The revised plan can be reviewed online at www.martinsville-va.gov. It also can be examined at the city housing office at 605 Fourth St. during regular business hours.

If massive budget cuts are made in the federal government effective March 1, HUD could lose as much as $300 million, and that could reduce how much rental assistance is provided to localities, Knox said.

Martinsville’s Section 8 program also serves Henry County. Knox said the city’s waiting list for housing assistance averages about 650 households in the city and county at any given time.

Also Tuesday, the council:

• Heard from city resident Ural Harris, who said that from reading reports in the Martinsville Bulletin, he perceives the Phoenix Community Development Corp. has not done much to help improve the community.

The city is working with Phoenix to try and revitalize the former Henry Hotel uptown. Harris said he wants the city to do something with the building so it no longer has to spend money on the structure.

• Heard from city resident Chad Martin about a 5-kilometer run planned this weekend.

• Met in closed session to discuss a personnel matter. Mayor Kim Adkins said the council interviewed a candidate for the city manager’s job, but no action was taken afterward.

Further coverage of Tuesday’s council meeting will be in the Bulletin on Thursday.

 

 
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