Senior Village Opens On Biloxi's Point

The quest to meet the overwhelming need for affordable housing is slowly being met. On Tuesday, the Biloxi Housing Authority opened a housing complex specifically for seniors. Cadet Point is giving people who grew up in east Biloxi a chance to come home. People like Madeline Coleman.

Before she signed her new lease, she said being back in Biloxi "is wonderful because I've waited for quite awhile."

Almost two years to be exact. Katrina forced Madeline Coleman out of the Santa Maria retirement tower, and out of Biloxi. Since relocating to Moble, she's been dreaming about moving home.

"It was quite a trip. But the trip back was better," she quipped.

On Tuesday, Coleman had some paperwork to fill out, and a rent check to write. Once that was done, the Katrina evacuee was home again.

"I got my keys, see my keys," she said to pepole in the waiting room, a smile beaming across her face.

In a couple of days, her dear friend Gaye Babcock will also get a set of keys to move into the Biloxi Housing Authority's newest complex.

"Oh I'm in seventh heaven," Babcock said.

Seventy six seniors can move furniture into Cadet Point apartments. However, just 22 names appear on the complex's leasing board. Wendy Graham runs the senior village.

"We're still processing applications. As quick as they get approved, we get them leased up," the business manager said.

As more and more seniors move into the three story building with a bright green roof on Biloxi's eastern tip, the housing authority expects it to become the agency's signature property.

"Didn't think I would ever see it happen, but I'm extremely happy," said Graham.

Not nearly as happy as Madeline Coleman was when she checked out her new home for the first time. She closed her new closet, turned around and started singing and dancing.

Her lyrics had just five words, the most important words she's said in almost two years, "We're back home in Biloxi."

The Cadet Point Senior Village was supposed to open several weeks ago. But a fire code concern in one of the stairwells delayed move in day until this week.

Cadet Point is part of Biloxi's Hope VI housing project. The $36 million public housing initiative along Biloxi's back bay was nearly finished. And then Katrina tore it apart.

A few months ago, 17 tenants moved into the south side of Hope VI. And recently, contractors get permission to renovate the remaining hurricane damaged units. The housing authority has been told Hope VI will be completed right after the new year.

"This is just the first step in what we're trying to do here in Biloxi in bringing affordable housing back," housing authority director Bobby Hensley said. "This is our showpiece. We're very proud of these properties, the Hope VI properties."