“I am committed to reforming the City of Oswego HUD Section 8 Rental Assistance Program to incorporate a workforce development component for workable families, to transition the assistance from a government subsidized ‘handout’ program to a constructive ‘hand up’ program,” said Mayor Barlow. “I want to create an avenue that removes the stumbling blocks and better connects individuals utilizing the City’s Rental Assistance Program to workforce development agencies that can assist with conducting a job search, preparing a work resume, and finding meaningful employment, ultimately setting individuals on a path to self-sufficiency,” Barlow continued. “I’ve already taken a step in this direction by executing a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Oswego and Oswego County Workforce Development Board, to refer and encourage clients to participate in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program and employment-related programs,” Barlow said.
The four key proposed updates and revisions to the City’s Section 8 Administrative Plan include:
1. Re-prioritizing the ranking system used to place individuals on the program to offer priority to households with members that are currently working part-time, are enrolled in education, or participating in a vocational training program. The changes to the ranking system will also place military veterans higher on the priority list, while placing individuals from outside the City of Oswego at the lowest priority.
2. Implementation of uniform housing standards, upgrading the Rental Assistance Program’s inspection standards to meet the City and State codes. Specifically, mandating landlords who accept HUD vouchers to obtain rental permits from the City of Oswego and to abide by the City and State codes to provide better living conditions to individuals receiving HUD assistance, while holding landlords who accept HUD vouchers as payment more accountable.
3. Implementation of fees charged to landlords participating in the rental assistance program for properties that fail the required Housing Quality Standards inspection. If a property on the HUD voucher program fails a required inspection and needs to be re-inspected, a $100 fee will be assessed on the landlord after the first re-inspection, with an additional $50 fee imposed for every subsequent failed inspection. This will help ensure that the landlords are maintaining compliance with the Housing Quality Standards in a timely manner.
4. Expanding the review of the criminal background check to prohibit individuals applying to the program that have been convicted of a felony in the past five years involving violent criminal activity, illegal substance abuse, or alcohol abuse. Previously the criminal background checks reviewed records from the past three years.
“By offering more resources to individuals, prioritizing those working, going to school and raising a family, improving living conditions and raising expectations for housing units on the HUD program throughout the City, we are better positioning our neighbors and community members to succeed,” Barlow concluded.
The scheduled public hearing on the proposal will be held at 7:05 pm and will be voted on by the Common Council during the regular Council meeting at 7:30 pm, Monday, December 11, 2017.