Government housing assistance programs affected by budget cuts

Dorothy Brewer is a resident at Oak Hill Plaza.
Dorothy Brewer is a resident at Oak Hill Plaza.
Linnie Faye Smith stays frugal with her thermostat.
Linnie Faye Smith stays frugal with her thermostat.

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A federal budget crisis is changing the way a lot of government assistance programs do business.

This includes how high energy bills are managed to keep residents' apartments cool.

At Eastwood Terrace, where Linnie Faye Smith lives, the utilities are provided. Even so, Smith is frugal with her thermostat settings.

"Now ours, we fix it where it comes off and on," said Smith.

Unlike some of her neighbors who let their central air conditioning units run continuously.

If the air goes out, Eastwood tenants receive free window units, until a newer central unit can be installed.

If Dorothy Brewer's air conditioning goes out, she opens the window. She lives across town in Oak Hill Plaza, another subsidy rental complex where tenants must buy their own window units, plus pay a monthly fee.

"It's just not fair", said Brewer, "$40 a month and I don't feel like that's fair because if we are hooked up with Eastwood now, then I feel like we shouldn't have to pay. That don't make any sense."

It does to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It maintains one contract for both complexes. According to a contract manager, the complexes are technically two separate projects. Oak Hill started out with no heating and cooling. It stays that way for those who can't afford it.

"They can't afford to pay the $40, so that's probably why they don't have no air condition," Brewer said.

But, if they lived in Eastwood Terrace they would be required to pay the same percentage in rent, but have the bonus of free air conditioning. A nice privilege says Smith, but one that shouldn't be taken for granted.

"They ought to be willing to pay because of those utility bills," said Smith.

No changes are proposed. Like any kind of housing, some have more than others.

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