Region VIII Improves Its Image

Keith Ducksworth remembers the days when walking through the L.C. Jones Housing project wasn't a good idea.

"It was kind of rough coming up as a kid out here," the Gulfport man remembered. "Gangs and everything, drugs. But I believe everything is getting better over the past couple of years, you know."

So does Region VIII housing director Roy Necaise.

"We worked very hard the past few years to try to bring public housing from the projects to regular housing communities," Necaise said.

Necaise held a news conference to talk about how a zero tolerance policy and the modernization of 1,700 public housing units has changed the look and image of his communities.

"We're not going to tolerate it," he said. "They have to come into the community, they have to take on the personality of the community and live in peace and harmony with other residents."

Region VIII's cleaner, more modern look was evident in a vacant unit being remodeled by housing authority workers. Just about every unit has working appliances, central heat and air, and new sheet rock walls.

"It beats the concrete," resident Keith Ducksworth said, "because it was a lot colder with the concrete walls. But now they're making a lot of improvements. It's a lot better."

Region VIII spends three million dollars a year renovating public housing units in 14 South Mississippi counties.