Affordable Homes To Replace Eyesore Properties - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/22/05

Affordable Homes To Replace Eyesore Properties

The City of Biloxi plans to replace eyesore properties with affordable, new homes.

A new federally funded housing program allows the city to purchase rundown properties in East Biloxi. The rundown houses are demolished, clearing the way for new construction.

A dilapidated house on Alexander Street gives way to the wrecking crew. The aging structure is being cleared away for a new beginning. It's one of 18 lots the City of Biloxi has targeted for a dramatic neighborhood renewal.

"We've been demolishing the structures, cleaning up the sites. And we're going to have a new construction program where new houses will be built up on those vacant lots," said David Staehling with the City of Biloxi.

Federal funding allows the city to buy the eyesore properties, demolish the dilapidated structures, then build a modestly priced new house.

"Most of these properties have been problem properties in the neighborhood. And with the demolition and clearing the sites and then the new construction coming in place of them, we're kind of filling the missing teeth in the smiles of these neighborhoods," Staehling said.

Neighbors of East Biloxi certainly see a need for new homes in their community. In fact, a recent city survey of East Biloxi residents found affordable housing among the top three concerns of citizens, along with job creation and improvements to public safety.

Habitat for Humanity is also helping meet the need for affordable housing in East Biloxi.

Jessie Gaines is helping build the new home his family will be moving into soon. He sees a tremendous need for programs like the city's and Habitat.

"I hope they keep this going, I sure do. Because a lot of people need homes. It's the best thing that could have ever happened here," he said.

The City plans to keep a good thing going. 18 problem properties are now on the list for demolition then new construction. Money paid by qualified buyers will be re-invested in the program to allow even more renewal.

By Steve Phillips

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