Seventy apartments in the Cumberland Gardens public housing complex in Allentown have been designated as eligible for a change from traditional public housing to Section 8 – Housing Choice Voucher Program – designation, officials announced Thursday.
The change is part of a new Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) project launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), said Daniel R. Farrell, executive director of the Allentown Housing Authority.
The RAD designation and the switch to Section 8 rentals allow public housing authorities to access private financing for reconstruction and renovation projects unavailable under the current structures, according to HUD.
"Section 8 properties can carry debt service, so we can actually borrow money to finance the upgrades and renovations. It's a whole other financing source that hasn't been available to us in the past," Farrell said. "It's a new way HUD is looking to fund the work, and we want to be part of that."
Residents won't notice a change in the rental structure because they will still pay approximately 30 percent of their income for total rent, Farrell said.
The change, which will eventually encompass all 200 units at Cumberland Gardens over the next several years, will allow the housing authority to complete a comprehensive reconstruction of the 40-year-old public housing community, Farrell said.