Region 8 Housing Authority wants to create new image

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A $16.7 million affordable housing development is one of several projects meant to change the way people think about the Region Eight Housing Authority. The recently completed Regency Way Apartments sit on the old Camelot public housing site on 28th Street in Gulfport.

It took tax credits and a lot of partnerships, both public and private, to make Regency Way a reality. Those involved say regardless of income, people deserve to live in a place that is nice and affordable.

With amenities like a swimming pool, volleyball court, soccer field, covered parking, and a fitness center, it would seem Regency Way would be out of the price range of a low income family. But officials say that's not the case. Rents range from $377 for a one bedroom to $644 for a three bedroom.

Rick Devoe is the president of Realtex Development Corporation.

"My philosophy has always been that it doesn't matter how much money you make, you shouldn't have to live in any substandard housing. There is no reason that someone who's in a lower income bracket versus a higher income bracket shouldn't have the same benefits in housing."

At a grand opening ceremony, Region 8 Housing Authority officials said it's time for people to rethink what they think Region 8 is all about.

"Most people know Region 8 as far as public housing," said Region 8 Spokesperson Jessie Billups. "Now if we start developing these properties here in the name of South Mississippi Development Corporation, then they see there is a much wider portfolio, much more diversified than just public housing."

Besides the 120 unit Regency Way, Region 8 is partnering with developer RealTex on six other affordable housing projects in Harrison and Jackson counties. They include Baywood in Gulfport and Highland Springs in St. Martin. Officials say the spike of rental prices since Katrina has created many eager would-be tenants.

"We've got a tremendous amount of applications," said Billups. "I was talking with the property manager and although this is the grand opening today. We're probably close to 70 percent occupied already. So if somebody is looking for a place, they'd better get an application in, really, in a hurry."

Region 8 officials say Regency Way which began renting in January is about 70 percent full. The gated apartment community does accept Section 8 housing vouchers.

The Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Home Corporation also had a hand in the development of Regency Way.

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