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Government shutdown could impact Pueblo’s low-income housing

Posted at 9:12 PM, Jan 23, 2019

PUEBLO – Thousands of Puebloans receiving federal housing assistance could lose their homes if the government shutdown doesn’t end soon.

The Housing Authority of the City of Pueblo (HACP) said it has until March to deal with the real fallout.

HACP said it receives over a million dollars a month in rental support, utilities, and to pay staff. If the shutdown continues through February it’s at risk for running out of money which could lead to thousands getting evicted and having to search for a new home.

“Where do I go? How do I survive?”

These are the questions running through Barbara Rayas’ mind as she faces the real possibility of losing her home.

“If I had to move out of here I wouldn’t have a place to go.”

Rayas is on a fixed income and has called the Vail Hotel home for the last four years. It’s just one of many complexes in Pueblo HACP works with.

“If it weren’t for this place where I live and the least amount of money I have to pay out I don’t know what I would do.”

Likewise, Jack Quinn, chairman of the board for HACP, doesn’t know what the organization is going to do either if the shutdown continues.

“If we don’t have any money we can’t pay utilities. If you can’t pay utilities there’s no elevators, there’s no boilers. We have to evict them. Where can they possibly go in a town where we’re already short of apartments?”

While there are some emergency reserves Quinn said, “The trouble is there are certain funds we can only spend for this or for that, and we try and call HUD to say can we use these funds on that? Well, we don’t know whether we can because nobody answers the phone.”

With time and money running out it’s a situation that could really hurt a lot of families in the Steel City.

Quinn said HACP is asking landlords and Black Hills Energy to work with them if the shutdown drags on. It will also be writing to state lawmakers this week asking for their help.