Published: Aug 26, 2010 10:40 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 26, 2010 7:35 PM EDT

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Housing assistance in Charlotte County takes a big hit. The Housing Corporation of Charlotte County will be forced to close its doors next month.

With so many struggling to simply put  roofs over their heads, the Housing Corporation of Charlotte County is, "Slammed," C.E.O. Brenda Bala said. "There's so many people out of work, I can tell you we see people in here you would not expect."

The State Homeowner's Initiative Partnership, or S.H.I.P. funded the housing corporation with about 1.2 million each year. But after State Lawmakers pulled more than $266 million from the Housing Trust Fund to fix budget deficits, S.H.I.P. was no longer able to support Charlotte County.
Bala said the last straw came when the county requested costly audits.

"At this point, I have no more tricks to pull out of my hat," Bala said.

Friday, the Housing Corporation will discontinue its credit and foreclosure counseling programs, and by mid-September, it will close its doors.

Those needing counseling will be sent to Lee or Sarasota Counties. But for rehabs and new home purchasing, "People that have the need are just going to have to wait because we don't have the funding," County Housing Manager Bob Hebert said. "We'll start up again as soon as we can sort through it."

It's a heartbreaking end after 16 years. An organization meant to help victims of the economy became a victim itself.

"We've helped thousands of people, we've administered probably about $38 million over the years, and actually been very proud to represent Charlotte County," Bala said.

According to Bala, the county's Housing Department will now be responsible for carrying on the Housing Corporation's job and making sure its remaining money continues being spent on the people of Charlotte County.