MDA rolls out neighborhood rental restoration project

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Development Authority is getting a great response to its latest housing assistance program.

This week MDA is holding workshops to announce the Neighborhood Rental Restoration Project. The program offers forgivable loans to repair damaged rental homes, provided the owners rent the refurbished homes to low income tenants.

It was a standing room crowd Thursday morning at the St. Martin community center, and those attending the workshop quickly learned the number one goal of the rental rehab program.

"To provide affordable rental property for very low income tenants," said the MDA's Eric Gamble, who presented the program.

Curious property owners learned how they too might benefit from the program.  MDA is offering ten year forgivable loans ranging from $50,000 to $70,000. The money is available for owners of rental homes that need "significant repair or rehab."

"We want to provide funds so you can repair, renovate or reconstruct your damaged property. In other words, we want to help you get your neighborhoods back up to what the used to be,"  Gamble said.

George Stallworth owns rental property and is interested in the program.  He said it could benefit owners in need of rehab financing and prospective tenants seeking affordable housing.

"There are many people that are still looking for places to live and there are still many people with homes that have not been rehabilitated. And they need some type of financial assistance to rehab the home," Stallworth said.

Owners who qualify must then rent their refurbished homes for reduced rents as determined by HUD.

"The rental rates for Harrison and Hancock counties at fifty percent AMI, area median income, range from $361  to $550. Jackson County, $335 to $554.

"Well, I think it would be a very good program. I think it's going to require a lot of work, but anything that's worthwhile does that, so it's no problem," said resident Barbara Hannah, who attended the workshop.

"These are forgivable loans. It's not really a grant. But if you do everything right, at the end of the period it will be just like a grant," Gamble emphasized.

Applications will be taken from September 8th until November 16th.

Properties that qualify must be single family homes south of I-10 in Jackson, Harrison or Hancock counties.

Prospective applicants must be up to date on property taxes, must have a minimum credit rating of 580 and meet several other criteria.

The loans will be forgiven in the final two years of the ten year program, provided the property owners comply with all the program rules.

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