Through a combination of layoffs, cost cutting, and property sales, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) hopes to offset by $23.3 million the shortfall in its budget caused by the sequester cuts.
At Thursday's board meeting, PHA Commissioner Estelle Richman approved the budget plan for the fiscal year beginning April 1.
PHA expects to raise $4 million by selling scattered sites of housing - mostly stand-alone rowhouses and vacant lots. The agency will reduce overhead through savings on its insurance policy, $2.6 million, and reductions in administrative costs, $6 million.
Previously announced staff reductions of 82 people will save $7.2 million, with an additional $1.7 million in savings from furloughs and another $1.7 million from a freeze in hiring and overtime pay.
Most of PHA's $383 million budget comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It covers capital improvements, operations, and rental vouchers.
At the board meeting, the agency also announced that it was closing its waiting list for housing. Currently, 104,000 people have applied for public housing.
With only 438 applicants a year moving off the list into housing, the process is like "taking water out of the ocean with a spoon," said Richman.
She said the agency would review the waiting list to remove any applicants who no longer need housing, are deceased, or have relocated.
In other business, PHA said it planned to raise money to fund its development plans by selling between $80 million and $100 million in bonds. The agency receives $46 million a year from the federal government for capital projects, but current demand exceeds available funding, said Kelvin Jeremiah, PHA's chief executive.
To handle the bond sale, Richman approved three-year contracts of up to $252,387.50 for two law firms: Ballard Spahr and Hawkins Delafield & Wood.
PHA is under the control of HUD. As such, the federal housing agency will continue to review all legal invoices, including any future bond work, said Barbara Adams, PHA's general counsel.