Rental rehab program improving homes and lives

By Doug Walker - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gerald Watson has taken two 18th Avenue houses in Gulfport and turned them into a homeowner's dream come true.  Inside, they are completely renovated.

Watson took advantage of the state's Rental Restoration Project. That means over the next ten years, Watson could receive $70,000 for each home to pay for remodeling and other improvements. In turn, Watson would rent the homes to low and moderate income families.

"I would definitely say it's a win win for not only myself, but for the families and the community as well," Watson said. "Because I'm taking homes that people would generally not touch and turning it into something that a family would like to live in."

There's a home on Lewis Avenue in Gulfport that most people would not touch. But Watson bought it and plans to rehab it as well. It's a process that will take several months.

Since this is a government program, there's a lot of paperwork that has to be filed, a lot phone calls that have to be made and a lot of red tape to cut through. But the homeowners who are in this program that we talked to said it is well worth their time and effort.

"Yes, it's been worth it to me. Once I'm able to complete this home and put a nice family in here that's low to moderate income level,  it's very rewarding to myself and the family that's going to move in here."

But time is running out for other homeowners to follow Watson's lead. Lee Youngblood is with the Mississippi Development Authority, which oversees the program.

"The application period ends on November the 16th," Youngblood warned. "It's been out there for several weeks. Of course, we've advertised it, but we just want to make people aware that there is a deadline for application."

If you're interested in learning more about the Rental Restoration program, call the Mississippi Development Authority at (228) 523-4034 or visit www.msdisasterrecovery.com/small_rental/.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.