A coast builder wants to help more families achieve the American dream.
Lonnie Fountain wants to do his part to increase affordable housing on the coast. That's why his latest development near downtown Gulfport is aimed at "working class" families.
He's building 12 new houses on a one block area near the corner of 20th Street and 33rd Avenue.
It's not often a home builder's ribbon cutting attracts a United States Senator and a full house of community and business leaders. But this neighborhood project is something special. The dream is made possible through the partnership of a local builder, the nation's largest home lender and a well known regional bank.
As the brick layers formed a new wall, a celebration began on the lot next door.
"And we're here to celebrate affordable housing," said a spokesman for Fannie Mae, as he welcomed guests to the ribbon cutting.
Lonnie Fountain's name is on the new project. The D'Iberville native is building a dozen new houses on a block sized lot in the shadows of downtown Gulfport.
"There's a big need for affordable housing in this area. In Gulfport in general. And we're doing our best to try and supply it," Fountain said.
The new homes will be priced in the 80 thousand dollar range. Mortgage giant Fannie Mae is a financial partner, along with Whitney Bank, which is helping fund similar affordable housing development elsewhere.
Paul James is with Whitney Development Corporation.
"At the present time, the Whitney Development Corporation has a little over 40 of these projects under construction across the Gulf South," James said.
The new development is designed to upgrade the neighborhood and put more working families within reach of owning their own home.
"You think about working Americans that deserve a piece of the American dream too. A decent home to live in. An affordable home," said U-S Senator, Trent Lott, who spoke at the ceremony.
Lonnie Fountain admits he could make more money building higher priced homes in a more upscale neighborhood. But he says taking a smaller profit, while helping satisfy a critical demand for working class houses, is worth the trade off.
"I've had a lot of questions about the area and the price range. But I like building these houses. And I like fulfilling the need for affordable housing," said Fountain.
The 12 new houses are three bedroom, two bath single family homes. Construction on the houses should be finished by the end of this year.