Early next month, two Biloxi Housing Authority residents will get the distinction of being the first to complete the Resident Landscaping program. The Housing Authority started hiring residents to spruce up public housing areas with flowers and shrubs about eight months ago. Officials say they hope residents can turn an in depth knowledge of landscaping into a job skill. Residents say learning to transform their vision into beautiful reality is exciting.
"I find myself going home at night thinking about what I want to do with a certain area that I've been designated to do," said John O'Leary.
O'Leary and his co-workers have learned there's much more to creating beautiful flowers than just watering them. Before getting their hands dirty they had to learn the names of plants and shrubs, and how, where, and when to grow them.
"We've had plants that are two inches high, and six weeks later they're waist high," said O'Leary. "Just to watch it grow and know I put that in it's great."
Biloxi Housing Authority officials consider hiring residents to beautify the places they live as an investment that is paying off.
Robert Nelson teaches the landscaping course. "We're hoping that they will take this a step further and create a business and that way maybe can move themselves from public housing into their own homes," he said.
"Everyone that works out here is a resident of Biloxi Housing," said Vivian Griffin, who graduates from the program soon. "It gives them a chance to get a job and be self sufficient and get out the house and do something."
Workers will improve the grounds all six public housing sites throughout the city.