Renaissance Corporation Focuses On Affordable Housing

A non-profit organization with the goal of helping more working people get into homes of their own now has a better idea of how to go about it. On Friday, members of the Renaissance Corporation heard from a panel of housing experts from around the country.

The Urban Land Institute says by forming key partnerships, the Renaissance Corporation could have a hand in helping thousands of people become homeowners over the next 10 years.

One of the recommendations for building more work force housing is to get the employers involved.

A Biloxi beachfront condo is just one of several projects Roy Anderson Corporation has under construction. The company's head says while there is plenty of work to go around, housing for workers is in short supply.

"The main issue we're seeing right now is affordability," Roy Anderson III said. "There's a tremendous gap between income levels and the cost of construction and the land costs."

The Urban Land Institute told members of the Renaissance Corporation they could help offset the high cost of home ownership by forming an employer assistance housing program.

Anthony Topazi chairs the Renaissance Corporation.

"Where the employer would put up a little money, the Renaissance Corporation would put up a little money and combined we'd be able to help their workers find housing that they could afford and so we think that's a very nice idea that we want to pursue," Topazi said.

Tom Murphy is with the Urban Land Institute.

"Your teachers and your police officers and people working in the casino and the shipyard in Pascagoula really are struggling to be able to buy a house now," Murphy said. "You want your community largely home ownership, so our focus is both for people who have low income, but also people that are working but are really priced out of living in their community."

Without specifics, Roy Anderson III says he's not ready to commit the company to the employer assistance housing program, but he likes the idea behind it. Anderson says when more workers are home owners, those workers will stick around the community.

"Rental housing is going to be a strong component, but at the end of the day a sense of ownership for the employees, I think that's what it's all about," he said. "We want people to stay here on a permanent basis. Not just on a temporary basis, so I think it's very important."

Another suggestion from the Urban Land Institute is to partner with banks, making loans to people who didn't get enough insurance and government money to finish repairs to their homes.