BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - An attractive apartment complex on McDonnell Avenue in Biloxi represents the "new face" of public housing.
State and local leaders gathered Wednesday morning to formally dedicate the $14 million project.
The 162 new apartments represent the latest affordable, workforce housing. They were funded with a portion of the $100 million in Community Development Block Grant funds Mississippi allocated to replace or restore public housing damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
These new brick apartment buildings are not what many people may envision as public housing.
"You don't see those stark units of 40 years ago that were kind of cold and uninviting. What we see now are projects like these, which are very warm, very attractive. Something a resident can be proud of," said Lee Youngblood with the Mississippi Development Authority.
"The McDonnell Avenue Apartments represent another example of this community's commitment to providing quality, workforce housing," said Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway, during the dedication ceremony.
People touring the spacious, new apartment units agree it's a far cry from the dormitory-style public housing of decades gone by.
Holly Knight represented HUD at the dedication.
"This is not your mamma's public housing. It's new. It's exciting. It is what we want for public housing. We are about families and we're creating communities," said Knight.
"What do I think about it? It's a blessing. Best thing that could have ever, ever happened to me right now," said new resident Terry Brooks.
Brooks and her 10-year-old son are among the newest residents of McDonnell Avenue Apartments.
"You know, it doesn't look like public housing. It looks like apartment buildings. Because I'm living in an apartment building now and I love it. But this looks even better," she said.
"I think I can meet new friends. And we can go outside and play and have a good time together," said her 10-year-old son, Laderrick Jones.
"The governor's commitment to having affordable housing as a critical component of economic recovery, is unwavering," said Gerald Blessey, the state's appointed Gulf Coast Housing Director.
Governor Barbour's office released some figures on public housing along the Gulf Coast. As of Wednesday, April 15th, 650 public housing units had been completed, and about 300 are currently available.
They say another 336 units will be finished within the next 60 to 90 days, enabling more than 600 total units to be readily available by July, 1, 2009. An additional 509 units, which are now in the pre-construction stage, will come on line within the year.
Other available units include: 196 in Bay View Place and 76 in Cadet Point in Biloxi. Additionally, 96 units have been completed at the Highland Springs Apartment Complex and 120 units are at the Regency Way Apartments in Gulfport.