As most are aware, in 2014 we shut down Middletown Public Housing Agency with the intention that our concentration of Section 8 vouchers would disperse over time until we had a “normal” amount for a city our size.
40 years of HUD data shows that voucher holders generally go no further than about 10 miles from their current location when they receive a voucher. The reason for that appears to be that because voucher holders are by law, extremely poor, they stay close to whatever limited support system they have in place for rides, babysitting, access to public transit, etc.
By closing MPHA and distributing the vouchers to Hamilton and Lebanon, staff believed that over time Middletown vouchers would be turned in for various reasons (jobs, death, program violations, etc.) and then reissued in Hamilton and Lebanon. It was believed that many of the vouchers would not make their way back to Middletown.
The shutdown of MPHA was a year long process getting computer files, paper files and HUD funds distributed to the correct places. On Tuesday, City Council passed the final piece of that puzzle, allowing us to close down the bank accounts and distribute the remaining funds to Butler and Warren Metropolitan Housing Authorities. With that transfer, we will finally and officially be out of the Housing Agency business. No one is happier about that than me.
At the peak of our Section 8 program, we had just over 1,700 MPHA vouchers operating in the City along with some additional number of vouchers from Butler Metropolitan Housing Authority living within Middletown.
When I checked in with BMHA a couple months ago, the number of Section 8 vouchers operating within the City had dropped to around 1,000, a drop of over 700 vouchers from just a couple years ago.
If we were to be consistent with other communities, we would have just under 800 Section 8 vouchers in the City to serve our extremely poor. Remember that many of these voucher holders are elderly citizens on fixed incomes or disabled residents. Despite the bad rap, almost all of our Section 8 holders were law abiding citizens just trying to stay in decent housing. Over time, we should continue to adjust down to somewhere near our 800 goal.