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New Lansing Housing Commission boss ponders federal budget cuts

Martell Armstrong photo
Courtesy photo
Martell Armstrong is the new executive director of the Lansing Housing Commission.

The Lansing Housing Commission has been under new leadership since late February. Martell Armstrong was hired as executive director, leaving a similar post in Inkster, Michigan. He also has management experience from previous jobs with housing authorities in Texas and Ohio.

An initial concern Armstrong faces in Lansing is the level of federal funding the city can expect for housing programs. The Trump administration is proposing cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"We really are in a unique position," Armstrong states, "where funding is being challenged. You have to look at this in terms of how do we accomplish our mission with being less dependent on federal funding."

Armstrong and Lansing Housing Commission Board chairman Tony Baltimore recently met with HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson. Armstrong says "I found Dr. Carson to be very thoughtful and forthcoming." As for the effect of Dr. Carson's leadership and how it might help or hurt the Lansing Housing Commission, Armstrong says "the jury is largely still out."

President Trump's budget proposal would cut HUD spending from $47-billion to about $41-billion, a reduction of just over 13-percent. Armstrong says such a cut "does present a challenge going forward, there's no doubt about that. It also gives us an opportunity to reach out to our community partners and have a collective mindset going forward."

Lansing gets a little over a million dollars from HUD for capital funds, about $800,000 for operations, and more that $5-million for housing choice vouchers.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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