HUD Earmarks Additional $105 M for Energy Bills

With higher home heating and electricity bills catching many homeowners off guard this winter, the Bush administration reported that it will make additional emergency funds available for public housing authorities (PHA) and resident management corporations.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Mel Martinez announced earlier this week that his agency will earmark an additional $105 million to help pay utility bills. "The cold winter weather and high utility rates have dealt a double blow to housing authorities whose budgets were locked into estimates made months ago," Martinez said. "We're committed to helping housing authorities and resident corporations cover these extraordinarily high expenses."

Martinez pointed out that many utility bills on average are 18% higher than what housing authorities projected last year, and in some cases bills have soared over 50%. Martinez cited the Los Angeles Housing Authority, whose bills have increased by 25%, as an example. "Increases of that magnitude are simply too large to absorb."

Of the additional funds, $55 million will be put in a general resources fund used to meet the total subsidy requirements for the nation's 3,100 PHAs. The deposit will bring the new account total to $3.29 billion. The remaining $50 million will be on hand to meet "dire emergency utility needs" on a case-by-case basis.

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