Gulfport mayor: Too many vacant properties in the city

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The mayor of Gulfport says there are too many available homes in the city. Now he's calling for Governor Haley Barbour to help.

Wednesday, Mayor George Schloegel wrote a letter to the governor (see below) detailing Gulfport's housing dilemma. The mayor says with at least 2,300 homes on the market and even more rental units available, the city needs to re-think tax credit developments.

"The availability of houses drastically outweighs the demands," said Public Information Officer Ryan Lafontaine.

Lafontaine says the city of Gulfport is at its housing limit.

"A developer builds so many homes and then they just sit there," Lafontaine said.

He says that Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel is concerned that too many empty homes for sale and for rent will stifle the city's economy.

"When you have houses that are just sitting there and people have loans on them, it can really get dangerous," Lafontaine said.

The mayor supports groups like the Renaissance Corporation and Habitat for Humanity which specialize in building affordable housing. However, he believes there's no longer a need to continue building tax credit properties.

The mayor now hopes support from state and local leaders will prevent over-building in Gulfport.

"I think that anybody that's in the business of building homes are looking for ways to subsidize and make it better for their bottom line," said Ward five Councilman Ricky Dombrowki.

Council president Ricky Dombrowski agrees that the city should be more careful when approving tax credit developments. But he's not in favor of any type of moratorium on construction.

"I think that sets a bad tone and a bad example for the people that are coming to develop in our area," Dombrowski said.

Dombrowksi is convinced that once the port project is complete, Gulfport's housing market will recover. Until then, he says a more cautious approach is necessary when it comes to housing in the city.

"I'm optimistic about the future and I think the mayor is also, but it's a situation where we are in some rough times and we need to be careful and make sure that we are doing things the right way," Dombrowski said.

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