Budish Pitches HHS Levy Renewal, Hints At Housing Discrimination Legislation

[Matt Richmond / ideastream]

During the question and answer section after Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish's State of the County speech, an audience member asked about the housing choice voucher program, also known as Section 8, and when it would be reopened for new applications.

An independent agency, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, oversees the vouchers, but Budish replied that the county is considering ways to prevent discrimination in the federal rent subsidy program.

“That will make sure that people who have vouchers, that have those needs will be able to get housing as needed,” said Budish.

Landlords aren’t required to accept the vouchers, which guarantee direct rent payment from the federal government.

According to a report from the nonprofit advocacy group The Fair Housing Center, about 90 percent of voucher holders in the county are black.

Budish did not offer the specific measures under consideration to prevent discrimination, but said the county has been looking at new rules for a while. 

During most of his prepared comments at the City Club of Cleveland event, Budish focused on social service programs that benefit from a levy up for renewal.

The health and human services levy is on the May 8 ballot throughout Cuyahoga County.

Budish estimated that it generates $100 million in funding every year for programs including pre-k, workforce development and community revitalization.

“So here’s my commercial: It’s a renewal, not a tax increase, but it’s got to pass,” said Budish. “Everything I’ve talked about today, and a whole lot more, is dependent on that levy.”

The county executive is also up for reelection this year and is running unopposed.

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