VHA boss says focus on youths

Published 11:11 am Friday, June 29, 2012

Vicksburg Housing Authority executive director Ben Washington wants to develop more programs to help the young people living in VHA’s housing units.

“We have six locations, and 743 children reside at those locations,” he told the Port City Kiwanis Club Thursday. “I want to find programs for them.”

Currently, he said, the only housing authority-sponsored youth program is its Summer Youth Leadership Program, which provides mentoring and education programs for children.

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He said recent cuts in federal funding for public housing have reduced the housing authority’s ability to support the program.

“Our (operating) funds have been cut,” he said. “We’ve suffered a little bit.”

He said VHA’s monthly supplement for 2011 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was about $75,000 a month. It is $57,000 a month for fiscal 2012. HUD funds form the bulk of the housing authority’s budget.

“For the last two years, we’ve had to get funding from other sources for the program,” Washington said. “This year the city put up a match for half of our funding for the program. We need to find other funding sources.”

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on May 10 approved $17,000 for the program.

Washington said the summer youth program runs for six weeks, adding, “The children are out longer than that. I want to have more programs to keep them active.”

He said after the meeting, however, that he has no specific plans for new youth programs for the housing authority.