Sequester Forces Philly's Largest Landlord to Cut Jobs

The Philadelphia Housing Authority faces a $32 million reduction in federal funding

The sequester is leaving its mark on the Philadelphia Housing Authority, forcing the agency to lay off employees in order to stay afloat.

Federal budget cuts in excess of $30 million caused the PHA to let go of 82 employees.

As the 4th-largest housing authority, the PHA provides affordable housing to nearly 80,000 low-income residents and relies on the federal government for over 90 percent of its funding.

“Our hands are tied. This agency cannot continue serving the city most vulnerable without federal dollars,” said Kelvin A. Jeremiah, President & CEO of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, “These cuts were necessary in order to prevent any resident from becoming homeless. PHA will continue to find ways to cut cost without compromising services to residents.”

Because of a spending bill Congress passed earlier in the week, the $32 million cut is not as severe as the $42 million that was expected. The cut will still have an impact, though, and comes days after the U.S. Census Bureau reported Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty of the country's 10 most populous cities.

The city's largest landlord isn't the only part of Philadelphia feeling the sequester's effects. In addition, other government agencies that operate in the area, like Meals on Wheels and Head Start, are worried about the impact.

The 36 non-representative 46 represented PHA employees affected by the cut were given a one week severance package. The agency also provided a free confidential employee hotline number to aid them during this transition.

After the layoff, the PHA total savings with salary and benefits is nearly $7.2 million.

 “Washington’s unwillingness to compromise has forced these drastic measures in order for the authority to survive,” said Jeremiah, “PHA’s staff and residents are resilient. Therefore, I remain confident that together we will manage this storm. The federal budget should not be balanced at the expense of the poor and most vulnerable.” 

Nearly 12.9 percent of Philadelphia's population have incomes that are below half the poverty line, otherwise known as deep poverty.

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