Despite money woes, development for homeless vets goes forward

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A non-profit group is moving forward with plans to build affordable housing for our nation's heroes, even as it tries to figure out how to pay for it all.

Back Bay Mission went before Biloxi's Development Review Committee on Wednesday to discuss housing it wants to develop off Division Street. Back Bay Mission is committed to making this project work.

A duplex is providing a home to veterans who didn't have one. Back Bay Mission wants to extend that opportunity to more homeless veterans by building an apartment complex on the empty lot next door.

"The six units that we're building is going to be a two story structure with three units on the ground floor and three upstairs," said Everett Lewis, associate for housing initiatives. "At least one of those and possibly more will be handicap assessable."

At the DRC meeting, Back Bay mission learned what part of its design needs to be tweaked and which variances it needs to comply with building code. Before anything is built, Back Bay must figure out how to make up for money it was counting on that fell through.

"We've received several grants with funding for this project. We still have a shortfall in some funding that we're trying to close. So we're moving forward with the plans to go ahead and get the construction started," said Lewis.

The new homes will be like the current one-bedroom units. Back Bay officials said this is permanent housing where veterans are welcome to stay for as long as they qualify for the program.

"Veterans are people who have put their lives at risk for our country, whether they actually saw combat or not. They put themselves in harm's way because that's always a possibility when they join the service," said Lewis. "So we don't feel like any veteran should be homeless or living on the street, so as long as we can provide affordable housing for them we plan to do that."

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