By Chris Edwards
At the monthly meeting of its board of directors, the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) adopted payment standards for its Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.
DETCOG Executive Director Lonnie Hunt explained before the group of attendees at the Family Life Center of Woodville’s First Baptist Church, where the meeting was held, that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sets the fair market rates for rent, which vary from county to county.
“We need to pay good, healthy rents to keep landlords interested in our housing program,” Hunt said.
Hunt said Daphne Session, who chairs the DETCOG housing committee, had met with the committee and discussed the schedule of proposed payment standards.
The proposal for the program’s new payment standards called for it to cover 110% of fair market rent for HCV recipients and 120% for both emergency voucher recipients and Department of Veterans Affairs supported housing.
Hunt said DETCOG is allowed to pay more for the emergency voucher program and the veterans’ housing.
The payment standards were passed unanimously by the DETCOG board.
FY 2024 Budget Adopted
Hunt explained the figures projected for DETCOG’s 2024 proposed budget, which included a bottom-line figure of $31.7 million in total revenues and a projected $31.6 in expenditures.
He said that he hopes DETCOG ends up with more money, however, the projections noted some decreases in certain programs, such as with the Area Agency on Aging, which projected a $4.5 million budget for the next fiscal year.
Hunt said the projected decreases were largely due to an increase in federal funding availability due to the pandemic, allocations which have, by and large, reached the end of their tether.
Hunt also noted that DETCOG’s operating budget for FY 2024 includes funding for a new hire; someone who can learn the ropes of the organization’s top position. Hunt told the attendees that he is now 67 and is planning on retiring at age 70.
“I think it would behoove us to have someone in the organization already there in order to create a seamless transition,” he said.
Following his remarks, the budget was approved.
SFASU named to program
During his report of updates to the DETCOG board, Hunt said he was excited to let “the cat out of the bag” about a program to which Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches was named.
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced on Thursday that four universities in Texas have been named to the University Center Program, Hunt said. The program will provide additional funding, through the EDA, to the universities to promote and serve as regional hubs for economic development and innovation.
SFASU, Hunt said, “has really stepped up in the last few years with regional engagement,” and added “We are so thrilled about this.”
The other three schools named to the program are Tarleton State University in Stephenville; University of Texas in San Antonio and UT of the Rio Grande Valley.