BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - There's a new executive director at the Mississippi Regional Housing Authority. Jessie Billups worked his way up to this leadership role, having served in various positions at the authority for 21 years.
"Today is a historic and memorable day for Mississippi Regional Housing Authority Number 8," said Michelle Trotter, as she welcomed the crowd to a reception at the Lyman Community Center, "We welcome our new director, Mr. Jessie Billups, with pleasure and great esteem."
But it wasn't just his experience that helped Billups land the new leadership job. He's also known for his attitude.
"His attitude has always been positive. I've never seen him in a forum to where he was speaking negative, even though he was dealing with negative things at some time," said Willie Leverette, who chairs the housing authority board of commissioners.
The new director told the group he's excited and encouraged with this new job. He reminded the staff that they're in the people business.
"If you don't care about people, if you don't like working with people, you're in the wrong business," said Jessie Billups.
He said more often than not, the people they serve are dealing with problems.
"You know, it takes a special person to deal with problems day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out. That's what we do," he said.
Director Billups has witnessed something of a transformation in public housing over the past two decades. New subsidized developments feature more aesthetics and amenities. But the challenge, he said, remains the same when it comes to helping families with affordable housing.
"Bring them in and give them supportive services to help move them up economically and socially. So, hopefully, our goals are now not only to house people but to help them get stabilized and move them out so they can become self-sufficient," said the director.
The Mississippi Regional Housing Authority works in 14 counties in South Mississippi and covers an area that's 25,000 square miles.