The Monroe County Housing Authority and Tomah Public Housing Authority have agreed to merge operations, in a move that will streamline services and open up housing options for the people the two agencies serve.
Because both agencies are so small, merging will make operations more efficient and clients will only have to deal with one program, said Rachel Muehlenkamp, executive director of the Tomah Public Housing Authority.
She said she is anticipating that the move will lead to a slight increase in the number of people the combined agency could help.
“With our current funding, it’s possible we’ll be able to serve more clients,” she said.
The agencies each run a Section 8 housing choice voucher program that helps low-income people pay part of their rent, and they also own and manage apartment units that house families, senior citizens and disabled people. People who receive help typically pay 30% to 40% of their adjusted gross income as their portion of the rent.
“They possibly would have more opportunities as to where they decide they want to live,” she said.
During the conversion process, for example, some people may be offered a housing voucher where they can rent from a private landlord. The apartments would still be available and the rents would be set at affordable rates, according to Muehlenkamp.
“Someone without a housing voucher would be able to afford (one of the units) more easily,” she said.
The plan is in its infancy stages and more will take shape in the coming month, Muehlenkamp said.
“We’re hoping to be able to have more options for not only clients we’re currently serving but anybody that would be served in the future,” she said.
No jobs are planned to be cut in the merger. In fact, the move will give their swamped staffs some room to breathe.
“What it will do for the internal operations is to provide some depth of staff, so we have two people that know how to do the same job,” Muehlenkamp said.” This will help when a staff member is ill or on vacation, she said, because there will already be another person on staff who is qualified to cover for that person.
Muehlenkamp hopes that an agreement will be executed in either January or February, and from there it will be at least 12 months but likely not more than 24 before the merger will be fully in place.
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