Affordable Housing Still In Short Supply

Washing dishes is no longer a tiresome chore for newlyweds Kimberly and Marcus Lee. The dishwasher and washer and dryer are luxuries they never had before in public housing.

"This is the best part. You don't have to go to no laundry mat no more," Kimberly Lee said.

The Lees and their two children moved into the newly-built rental home in February. The house is part of the Hope VI affordable housing complex going up on the former Bayview-Bayou Auguste sites in Biloxi.

"It's the only way me and my children could be able to live, because you can't afford nothing no more. I'm disabled also. Without it, I'd be out in the streets."

The Lees are among a dozen low-income families lucky enough to find an available Hope VI home. Four hundred families are still on the waiting list.

The shortage of affordable housing was what real estate agents, rental apartment managers and housing authority leaders addressed at the first Fair Housing Conference in Gulfport Thursday.

Shanna Smith is the President of the National Fair Housing Alliance.

"You're having a big increase in jobs here with the industrial and the commercial developments, and yet the housing is not keeping pace with that."

Smith added that it's not just a South Mississippi problem. It's a national problem.

The Lees feel blessed that they have a roof over their heads. Now, they have another dream as they start their new life together.

"We want to buy a home. I have to stay in Biloxi. I want to stay on the Point."

But her husband jokingly said "I want to go to St. Martin."

Affordable housing was one major topic at Thursday's conference. Another goal was to make sure that everyone understands the fair housing laws, so they don't discriminate against potential renters or home buyers.