The director of the Biloxi Housing Authority says the last 18 months have been a struggle to get more affordable housing on line. Before Katrina the agency had 474 units. The hurricane cut the number to 180 available units. That number has stayed the same until now. Both Housing officials and residents say they're more than ready to move full speed ahead.
"It's been a long journey," says Alan Sage.
Sage spent Wednesday afternoon unloading his washer and dryer. His journey goes from his Benachi Avenue apartment to a FEMA trailer and then back to this Benachi Avenue apartment.
"I was just getting used to the apartment before Katrina came by," says Sage. "Then we got flushed out, and now we're finally back a year and a half later."
A year and a half after Katrina damaged or destroyed many of the Biloxi Housing Authority's properties, the director says he can finally see definite signs of progress.
Director Bobby Hensley says, "Oakwood is our first property to come on line. So, what it means is we have turned the corner from the storm, and we are now bringing people back to live in Biloxi housing Authority property. So, it's full speed ahead from here. We feel like we're making progress rather than planning on day to day, and we're actually seeing things happen."
Crews are working to get families into all 80 units of Oakwood Village. Hensley says there won't be any trouble finding tenants.
"As they become available people will be moving in, yes. We have enough people on waiting lists to take care of this and a whole lot more," Hensley says.
After living in a tiny FEMA trailer for more than a year, Alan Sage says he, his wife and his children were ready for something more.
Sage says "Feels more like home, and we haven't been in a home in a long time."
Director Bobby Hensley says all the apartments at Oakwood Village should be renovated by mid summer. First priority goes to people who were living there before Hurricane Katrina.