Groundbreaking for largest Habitat neighborhood in Hancock County

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - About 27 acres of land are being cleared on Union Street in Bay St. Louis.  Habitat for Humanity Bay-Waveland Area bought the property three years ago with a dream.

"We had enough money to buy the land and we just thought, God will provide the rest of the money. And He has," said Wendy McDonald, Executive Director of Habitat of Bay-Waveland.  "We can't thank everyone enough for what you've done to make this come true."

The property will become Habitat's largest housing project to date in Hancock County.  The Union Street neighborhood will have 42 energy efficient houses. Twenty-six of them are cottage-style, single-family homes. Sixteen units are senior villas, built just for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

"I'm probably most excited about our senior housing, because it's been a long time coming," McDonald said." We've been trying to work out the kinks and the details and get the appropriate house on the appropriate street."

The Mississippi Development Authority provided $4.3 million in grants for the project.  ECD/HOPE and Hancock Bank contributed $2.3 million. Two streets in the neighborhood will be dedicated to the Seal family, one of the founders of Hancock Bank.

"We're very excited to be a part of this project, and the ground breaking today is going to allow other families to come home," said Keith Williams of Hancock Bank.

Habitat leaders say many low-income families are still longing for a place of their own, after Katrina damaged or destroyed 70 percent of the housing stock in Hancock County.

"Without Habitat, I don't think that we ever really addressed the affordable housing needs of the citizens of Bay St. Louis, I really don't," Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame said.

"This is a great way to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Katrina," McDonald said.

The neighborhood also features a park, and the grounds will be landscaped with native plants. All 42 houses should be finished by the end of 2010.

Interested families must meet certain eligibility requirements.  To apply, call (228) 467-9699 or go to

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