The Lakewood Township Residential Assistance Program, (LTRAP), once again attained a perfect 100% score on the Section Eight Management Assessment Program, (SEMAP). SEMAP is the tool HUD uses to measure, rate, and rank the performance of housing providers administering the tenant-based Section 8 housing choice voucher program. SEMAP measures thirteen critical indicators such as selection from the Waiting List, Reasonable Rents, HQS Enforcement, Timely Rent Reexaminations, Lease-ups, Correct Calculation of Tenant Payments, and Expanding Housing Opportunities. Today (April 30, 2014), LTRAP received notice from HUD that it again scored 100% for 2013, a perfect score of 135 out 135 possible points. Since the inception of this annual SEMAP rating system 14 years ago, LTRAP has consistently been ranked by HUD in the “high” performance category, almost always scoring a perfect 100% score.
Founded and led by Rabbi Meir Hertz since its inception in 1977, LTRAP is administered by the Lakewood Tenants Organization (LTO), a New Jersey not-for-profit organization. This month LTRAP marked 37 years of serving the affordable housing needs of Lakewood’s residents.
LTRAP is sponsored locally by the Township of Lakewood. However, one hundred (100%) percent of its $16 Million annual budget is derived from HUD. There are a total of 109 Section 8 programs in New Jersey: 80 are administered by governmental housing authorities, and 29 by housing agencies. LTRAP is by far the largest private (non-governmental) agency providing affordable housing in the state. As this SEMAP score shows, it is also one of the very best in the nation—public or private.
- LTRAP currently administers 1,058 Section 8 Rental Assistance Program vouchers, providing over $1.2 Million in Section 8 rent subsidies monthly. All LTRAP subsidized-units are leased to income-eligible senior or disabled households and families. All are occupying safe, decent and sanitary dwelling units in the private rental market, owned by more than 800 participating landlords.
- LTRAP currently has approximately 1,000 names on its Waiting List, 750 of which are Lakewood residents. Lakewood residents receive a preference over non-residents. LTRAP stopped taking applications in December, 2004, and will reopen applications’ intake when the current list is nearly depleted and the prospect for assisting additional applicants improves. Unfortunately, due to severe federal budgetary cutbacks there has been no new funding awarded to the Section 8 program in the past 20 years.
- LTRAP’s fiscal operations are audited annually by an Independent Public Accountant (IPA Audit), selected in a Request For Proposals (RFP) bid process. The fiscal audits for at least the past 30 years were consistently clean. The only finding ever made in all this time was in 2007 when LTRAP assisted more families than HUD authorized, despite the fact that financially, LTRAP was able to do so, and did not exceed its budgetary authority. Copies of all the LTRAP annual Audit Reports are forwarded to the Lakewood Treasurer for inclusion in Lakewood’s Single Audit Report, as required.
Now in its fourth decade of meeting the affordable housing needs of Lakewood’s neediest residents, LTRAP hopes to build on its accomplishments, and to reach and assist as many families as possible. But the key remains in Washington, with the President, and with Congressional appropriations. [TLS]