The chairman of the Biloxi Housing Authority calls the project a "catalyst" that will strengthen all of East Biloxi.
Chairman Delmar Robinson is confident the $55 million "Hope Six" development will transform the community for the better.
The housing authority began tearing down the old complex Wednesday morning and announced a development team that will design and build the new homes. The replacement housing will be quite a positive change for residents and the neighborhood.
"It feels good to be at Bayou Auguste for this very, very, very, very special occasion," Housing Authority Director Edward Jagnandan said as he addressed the news conference crowd.
The occasion is saying so long to the deteriorating 50-year-old "barracks style" buildings that were built in the 1940s to replace the shacks that sheltered workers in the seafood industry.
"They were awful," Jagnandan said. "They were beyond repair. We looked into repairs at one time. The money to be spent would be using good money towards bad. It wouldn't serve any purpose at all."
Instead of repairs, a federally funded "Hope 6" project will replace the rundown apartments with 200 new single family homes and duplexes.
Delmar Robinson is chairman of the Housing Authority Board.
"We, the board, told Edward that this is not just building some houses. This is building communities. There's more than houses that goes into a community."
Heavy equipment fired up for the first step of that community building. First off, the old homes must go, and the Biloxi Housing Authority director took a turn at the controls.
Bobbie Nell Cook raised six children and two grandchildren during her three decades at Bayou Auguste. She watched the demolition with mixed emotions.
"A lot of memories here. I hate to leave. But we all had to go. But I just thank God everybody here was so good to us while we were here. I'd been here 36 years."
The demolition should be done by September. The new development is set to open in 2004.
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