The Hope VI homes near Back Bay Boulevard look a lot different then they did when hurricane flood waters rushed through the 384 unit complex. Bobby Hensley is the Biloxi Housing Authority's Director.
"There was a point right after the storm where I didn't know if we would have a housing authority here in Biloxi," he said. "We were so devastated."
Once volunteers started ripping out mold covered walls, the housing authority realized it could repair what Katrina destroyed. It brought in carpenters who started removing door frames, so new doors could be installed. A plastic wrap that wasn't available before the hurricane is now being taped to window sills. The plastic should prevent water from seeping through cracks. And homes with new sheet rock are getting interior makeovers.
"You're getting close to where if you get carpeting and a little trim replaced here, we're ready to go with a unit like this," Hensley said.
In fact, the housing authority director has been told the first tenants could move into some of these homes by the end of March.
"I hope this facility is setting the standard for affordable housing here in east Biloxi, or in Biloxi in general," said Hensley.
Hope VI initially cost $60 million to build. Just as the first renters were moving into the neighborhood, the hurricane made an unwanted visit. Now, Hensley and his staff are determined to recapture the hope that these affordable homes provided before the storm.
"I see what's going to be a vibrant neighborhood here," said Hensley.
On February 6, 2007, the Biloxi Housing Authority will update city council members on its plans for Hope Six. Hensley said his group will also talk about other affordable housing projects around the city.