Burns seeks details on JHA Section 8 landlords, vouchers

RTK request focused on program scope, practice of porting

EBENSBURG, Dec. 8 – Using the illuminating power of the state’s Right-to-Know Law, state Rep. Frank Burns is probing deeper into the Johnstown Housing Authority’s Section 8 Program to find answers about porting valuable housing vouchers outside the county.

Burns, D-Cambria, made a written request to Mike Alberts, JHA executive director, involving the scopes of the JHA Section 8 Program and its porting of vouchers, asking specifically for:

  • A list of all current JHA Section 8 Program landlords, the corresponding location of each of their properties currently enrolled in the Section 8 program, and the corresponding rents currently paid by the JHA on each property.
  • A list of Section 8 Program vouchers that have been ported out to housing authorities in other areas over the past three years (2020, 2021 and 2022), which housing authorities they have been ported to, and the monthly rent subsidy paid out of JHA Section 8 Program funds for each those ported vouchers.
  • The size of the current JHA Section 8 Program waiting list, and where each of those applicants are currently living, by municipality, county and state.

Burns believes his inquiry is wholly warranted, given a recent Philadelphia Inquirer story that documented how people from Philadelphia are moving to Cambria County, getting a Section 8 voucher through the JHA, then moving back to Philadelphia – voucher in hand – and leaving the JHA on the hook for paying their rent hundreds of miles from where the voucher was obtained.

“On behalf of the numerous people who voiced their concerns over Section 8 to me while I canvassed Johnstown this summer, I have made this request for public information,” Burns said. “The people who live here want and need answers – and as someone who is representing Johnstown for the first time, I’m going to help get them.”

Burns, who is also calling for an audit of the JHA Section 8 Program by investigators from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said he was encouraged that U.S. Rep. John Joyce has written HUD concerning the vouchers.

“The congressman appears to be focused on HUD’s voucher portability policy, which is a welcomed involvement,” Burns said. “My thrusts are in examining the issue at the JHA level, ensuring that all Section 8 voucher recipients are meeting HUD requirements, and documenting the size and financial impact of the voucher porting practice in our community.”