SIKESTON - Federal Housing and Urban Development officials in Washington, D.C., have approved the merger of the Sikeston and Scott County housing authorities and a reduction in the number of Section 8 vouchers.
"The merger is official and the 10 percent reduction is official, confirmed Bobby K. Henry, executive director of the Sikeston Housing Authority. "Both of them have gone through. I got the letter on the 27th of January."
With over 200 people on the Section 8 waiting list, Henry will not immediately request any further reduction in the number of vouchers, "but we'll continue to watch that and if it becomes possible to ask for another reduction, we will," he said.
Additionally, remaining Sikeston Housing Authorities reserves will stay in Sikeston.
Last year, federal officials had advised unused reserve money would have to be returned to the federal government even though much of the reserve money was from accrued interest.
"We had to fund the administration of the program ourselves last year because of the suspension of reserves," Henry said, estimating roughly $100,000 was spent from reserves for administration. "They made us use it instead of actually writing a check and sending it back."
Now the Sikeston Housing Authority will be permitted to keep the reserve money, but will have a narrower range of approved uses.
"The federal 2004 appropriations bill basically said we could use the reserve money for Section 8 purposes," Henry said. In years past, use of reserves was allowed for any other housing uses, he said.
Henry said the Housing Authority should keep between six months to a year of operating funds in reserve, or about $150,000.
"We still have over $700,000," Henry said.