Region 8 Leaders Say Gulfport's Affordable Housing Plan Nice Gesture, Not Enough - - The News for South Mississippi

Region 8 Leaders Say Gulfport's Affordable Housing Plan Nice Gesture, Not Enough

A good gesture that falls way short. That's how the Region 8 Housing Authority sees the Gulfport mayor's affordable housing initiative. Mayor Brent Warr laid out his vision in a meeting Thursday night. 

Gulfport's mayor wants the council to approved eight tax credit properties. Of those, three fall under Region 8. Region 8's director says when it comes to affordable housing Gulfport still has a long way to go.

The bottom floors of the Village Apartments on 34th Street in Gulfport had to be gutted after Katrina. Region Eight officials say they have applied for tax credits to tear it down and build new housing. Gulfport 's mayor wants the city to sign off on that.

"That they are going to allow us to go back where we were. Obviously that's by right so they didn't really give us anything," said Roy Necaise, Region Eight director.

"Twenty months after the fact, just now getting permission to go back and build what we had. That puts us back to square one. Now what are we going to do for the future? How are we going to move forward with other affordable housing developments?"

Region Eight officials say to move forward Gulfport needs to allow for more than redevelopment on current sites like Baywood on Switzer Road. Roy Necaise says there must be some expansion, but Thursday night Mayor Brent Warr made no mention of two new developments the Housing Authority hopes to build. Those developments include Sand Stone near the corner of Dedeaux Road and Cowan Road, and the construction of Hillside Terrace on Pass Road near Eighth Avenue 

"I believe the city thinks it's off the table and it never has been off the table," said Necaise.  "We'll go through the process. We'll go through the proper channels and if we don't get the desired effect, we will continue to go and we'll take it all the way to court."

After Gulfport's initial 8 pre-approved sites all future tax credit developments could only have 40 percent of the units as affordable housing. Putting the rest on the open market doesn't sit well with Necaise.

"If the city wants to put these restrictions on there by the way of the open market then I hope they have the CDBG funds to give us for that gap because you can't use CDBG funds to construct open market units."

Mayor Warr also wants Gulfport to sign off the construction of Regioncy Way on 28th Street on the old Camelot Homes site. Housing officials say with all three projects the city has approved that amounts to about 300 units for Region Eight.

by Danielle Thomas 

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