Tonight: LTO To Hold Workshop at General Membership Meeting

The Lakewood Tenants Organization, (LTO)  which administers one of 3 local HUD-funded rental assistance programs, will hold a Workshop in conjunction with its annual meeting this evening.

Some of the questions and issues to be discussed at tonight’s public meeting, are as follows:

1) Why isn’t LTRAP re-opening its Waiting List? Why does the LTRAP Waiting List move so slowly? How many names are there currently on the LTRAP Waiting List?

2) I understand that LTRAP uses a tiered-asset preference system. What effect does this have on progress in the Waiting List? If I have assets, will I ever be assisted?

3) I live in the same house for the past 5 years. Some years it was considered a 5 bedroom home, now they are only calling it a 4 bedroom home? What changed and how will this affect the subsidy I receive?

4) My daughter just came back from seminary and started working. She does not contribute anything to my household. Must I still report her income and will it be counted for HUD purposes? What if she is also enrolled as a full-time student? My son worked in a camp in the summer. Must I report this income as well, and will it be counted as household income for HUD? My wife substituted for 6 weeks. Since it was only temporary I forgot to report it. Now I got a termination letter from LTRAP since they discovered the income on an E.I.V. Report. What must I report, and how soon after the change must I report it to your Agency?

5) My friend told me that he received money from the Family Self-Sufficiency Program and was able to use it as a down-payment for a new home. How can I join? Is this Program open to all LTRAP Section 8 participants?

6) Mortgage Interest Rates are at a record low. Could I possibly buy a home under LTRAP’s Section 8 Homeownership Program? What are the requirements? Is the program limited? What if I want to refinance? Can I buy a home and still participate on other government programs?

 Answers to questions:

1.  LTRAP’s Waiting List has been closed for the past 8 years. HUD stopped awarding funding for more Sec. 8 Vouchers about 18 years ago. This means that, nationally, no new (incremental) vouchers have been awarded in all this time.  As such, we can only call-in people from the Waiting List at turnover – when someone gives up a Voucher. For this reason the list moves very slowly.  Furthermore, LTRAP will not re-open the Waiting List until we have significantly depleted the current Waiting List.  Adding new names on the Waiting List will only frustrate those who apply, just to have their names on the list for years or decades, with no progress. In addition, HUD has been cutting our annual budget and in coming years we may not even be able to maintain our current program size.  At this time (December 2012) we still have over 1,000 names on the Waiting List, and therefore do not anticipate re-opening the List to new applicants any time in the near future.

2.  LTRAP’s uses a Tiered-Asset Preference System when sorting its Waiting List. This means that the families that have the lowest amount of assets will get helped first. The asset categories are set up in $20,000 increments with additional allowances for each child. This means that if your family has a significant amount of money in the bank (or other assets) you will have to wait longer to be assisted. LTRAP first helps all those in the lowest asset category, and when that category is depleted, then goes to the next asset category. Although you will eventually get reached, if your assets are high, the wait will be longer.  In fact, we still haven’t even reached all the names in the lowest asset category. 

3. Last year LTRAP did extensive legal research both with HUD and HUD attorneys as well as with the Township of Lakewood to define a “bedroom” for determination of the “bedroom” size of the home.  Since LTRAP has many assisted units that consist of more than the typical living/dining room, kitchen, and bedroom, LTRAP needed to define all these extra rooms (e.g., a study, playroom, nursery, etc.).  In many instances this changed the “bedroom size” classification of a unit and therefore your unit-size may have been re-designated. If, however, your unit was classified as having more bedrooms in the past, LTRAP will grandfather in your previous unit-size Payment Standard, so that you do not lose out. However, please note that when comparing your unit to others like it for rent reasonableness purposes we will use the true actual unit size based on our current definitions. This means that your landlord should be careful before asking for a rent increase because his request, because such a request will trigger a rent reasonableness test and his request may be either denied, or the rent lowered.

4. You must report all changes in household income within 10 days of the occurrence. This means within 10 days of getting the job, not of getting paid. This includes changes for any and all household members whether or not their income is contributed to the household expenses. So, yes you must report your daughter’s income. However, if she is a full-time student it will not really affect your portion of the rent. If you don’t report all household income you may be terminated from the program for fraud. And, yes you must report your son’s earnings from camp, and you must report your wife’s substituting job within 10 days of the beginning of employment.

5. The Family Self-Sufficiency Program is open to all program participants. It is a wonderful program for those looking to increase their income. As your income increases and your portion of the rent increases, LTRAP matches this amount in an escrow account held for you until your successful completion of the program. The money deposited in your escrow account is not income by the IRS or other programs. Moreover, when you attain your goal, and collect the matching funds you may continue to receive Section 8 benefits. You must set a goal and work towards that goal. The program is limited to 5 years, so timing of your enrollment in this program is important. Please call Dina at ext 29 for more information on this program, or to enroll.

6.  LTRAP’s  Section 8 Homeownership Program is doing very well and is very popular with over 100 participants, especially with today’s low interest rates. To qualify you must not have owned a home within the past 3 years, be earning at least a minimum income, a member of the household must be working at least 30 hours per week, you must have at least a 3% down-payment of which at least 1% of the purchase price is from your own funds, and be purchasing a single family home. LTRAP’s Homeownership Program is not limited. All LTRAP participants who qualify are eligible. You can refinance during the term of your program as long as it is approved by LTRAP prior to the refinance to ensure the refinance will not overburden your family. Participating in this program usually will not affect your eligibility and benefits in other government programs although, you should seek specific advice depending on the type of program in which you are participating.

Tonight’s meeting will touch on these and other important issues—and give attendees a behind the scenes look into key HUD programs.

TIME: 8:00 PM (Maariv 9:30 PM)
PLACE: Lakewood Township Auditorium (Courtroom), Separate seating.
231 Third Street (corner Clifton Avenue and 3rd St.), Lakewood, N.J.

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