Developer Brings Affordable Housing To Gulfport

A North Mississippi developer with a successful track record around the state is building new apartment homes for "working class families" in Gulfport.

The nearly 4-million dollar apartment complex is the first phase of a project that will also include a new neighborhood of single family homes.

Chances are good you've probably never heard of the Mississippi Home Corporation. But that agency is responsible for a developer's decision to build 44 new apartments and 62 new houses in West Gulfport.

New apartments rise from land that used to be woods near Brickyard Bayou. Families making less than 25 thousand dollars a year will rent the three bedroom, two bath units for around 400 dollars a month.

"Everywhere we've built 'em, they fill 'em up. And we've built 'em all over Mississippi. Small towns," said construction boss Don Pennell.

Pennell has worked with developer Clarence Chapman for ten years, building similar projects in other places.

"Been to Tunica County, Humphries County. All over Mississippi. And this is the furthest south we've been," he said.

The 44 units will be finished the first of next year. A federal program, administered by the Mississippi Home Corporation, gives the developer tax credits to build affordable housing.

"You know, I didn't envision this at all," said Victor Andrews.

Andrews isn't certain he likes what he sees across the street from his home of nearly 30 years. He worries about flooding and traffic, overcrowding and crime. He's counting on good management to help avoid such troubles.

"Knowing that people have to have a place to live. I can't be selfish and say I have a place and no one else. But I do want, good management should help this a whole lot," Andrews said.

The developer's commitment to improving the lives of working class families goes beyond just affordable rent. The developer must commit to holding frequent seminars on life skills issues, covering things like child care and money management.

The construction foreman says the developer will make the neighbors proud.

"He does a good job. He just makes us build them right. That's the main thing," said Pennell.

"Stonegate" apartments are located just west of 38th Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets. The same developer is also planning to build 62 single family homes, a seven million dollar development, just south of 19th Street behind the old county hospital.