VHA move paves way for upgrades

Published 9:12 am Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Vicksburg Housing Authority is getting an assist from the city to move to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program that will transform it into Section 8 housing.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday granted VHA a waiver on its annual in lieu of taxes payment to the city to help it pay off a mortgage to improve its housing units.

VHA executive director Ben Washington said the waiver will free up $1 million to $1.2 million to apply toward paying off a $9 million mortgage VHA will take out to cover some of the estimated $36 million cost to renovate and upgrade its 430 housing units to meet the requirements under HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Program.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The RAD Program, as it’s called, is geared to moving public housing to Section 8, so structures can be brought up to HUD standards.

VHA’s 430 units are among the homes eligible nationwide for the second round of the program, which began in 2013.

“We’re currently a public housing entity, which means we own the houses and we rent them out to low to moderate income individuals. They pay us rent and we qualify them,” Washington said.

“What happens with this is we get a mortgage on these properties — a loan against them, and will change from a housing authority to a non-profit entity for ownership. We technically lose the VHA and actually become landlords.”

He said the tenants will receive vouchers from HUD through either the Region 6 or Jackson Housing authorities, which will be used to help them pay rent on their homes. The vouchers will be issued directly to the as yet to be named non-profit agency. The agency issuing the voucher will qualify the recipient, he said.

Pending approval by HUD of the Housing Authority’s concept plan and the mortgage for the properties, Washington said, rehabilitation could begin on the buildings by spring 2017. He said residents would be relocated to other VHA properties while their homes are being rehabilitated. He said 80 percent of the renovations involve interior modernization and upgrades.

Besides the $9 million mortgage, Washington said the Housing Authority will receive $13 million in tax credits, apply $2.5 million in reserve capital improvement funds held by VHA, a $750,000 grant from the Mississippi Home Corporation, a $500,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank in Dallas, and $13 million is “sell back funds” from the purchase of the properties by the new non-profit company, which will take the place of VHA. The Housing Authority applied in 2013 to be part of the first round of RAD in 2013. Its 430 units were eligible for the program but VHA failed to make the cutoff date. It became eligible in 2015, after Congress approved a second round for the program, expanding it for 180,000 homes.


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John