Back Bay Mission takes on first affordable housing development

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - A long time champion for affordable housing is about to take the leap into becoming a housing developer. Back Bay Mission officials say, for the first time in its 80 year history, the non-profit is involved in a partnership to build houses and duplexes.

This weekend Back Bay Mission began accepting applications for Bethel Estates in Pass Christian. Some Pass Christian residents say since Katrina, buying or building a house here has become more of a financial strain.

"This area was affected by Katrina,"said Tina Dorsey of the Pass. "People can't afford the property around here, and we just need some help to get affordable housing in this area right now."

Bethel Estates will be build on Lang Avenue north of the railroad tracks.

Back Bay Mission Director Shari Prestemon said, "We're very excited to be in Pass Christian because we know it was one of the hardest hit areas. We know it's a charming community. "

Officials say the development includes 28 single family homes, which will have two and three bedrooms with up to 1,300 square feet of living space. There will be four duplexes, and everything will be built to be energy efficient.

"For Back Bay Mission, this is our first housing development," said Prestemon. "People know we've been here for more than 80 years. We're very committed to serving the community. But this represents for us a step of faith and a real commitment to a community that suffered so much in Katrina and has so much to offer."

Prestemon said the houses will be valued at around $160,000, but since the Mississippi Development Authority is offsetting construction costs, homeowners will pay much less for their mortgages.

'It think there is a misnomer people have when they hear the phrase 'affordable housing,'" said Prestemon. "They think that somehow they're going to be of lesser quality than they want to live in. Our development will show that just isn't fact. It's going to be beautiful homes, four different designs, plenty of amenities in a beautiful town."

Officials say construction is set to begin this Fall. To apply, contact the Back Bay Mission office in Biloxi at (228) 432-0301 ext. 211, or email

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.