Biloxi Housing Authority Updates Affordable Housing Progress - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi Housing Authority Updates Affordable Housing Progress

BILOXI (WLOX) -- It's mixed news for the Biloxi Housing Authority. During a housing summit on Monday, the agency announced it has nearly surpassed the goal it set back in 2007 to increase the number of housing units it has. However, officials say that supply is still not able to meet the growing demand. All of their available units are taken.

Two weeks ago, Melinda North not only became a first time homeowner, she also bought the first house to be built and sold as part of the Biloxi Housing Authority's Hope Six Project.

"I didn't have to put any money down on it," said North. "I didn't have to come up with anything."

The Biloxi Housing Authority gave the community an update on its mission to bring back affordable housing. Of the nearly 1,600 single family homes, senior housing and rental units officials said they wanted last year, it now has 1430 and more are on the way.

Delmar P. Robinson is chairman of board for the Biloxi Housing Authority.

"We've accomplished quite a bit. Of course, some difficult circumstances. We are ahead of our projections as far as completing the 1577 units of affordable housing in the Biloxi area. "

To meet demand more quickly, the Housing Authority purchased a multi-family development on McDonnell Avenue, which was already under construction.

"We saved time on this particular site," said Robinson. "It was being built, so we went to the developer and we purchased the 162 units. We didn't have to, in a sense, go through our bidding process, zoning. It was already zoned properly. So we pay for it and we begin the process of taking applications to move people in."

Officials say all the units that have been repaired since the hurricane are occupied or have been assigned to people preparing to move in.

"As soon as our units come on line and they're available, they're taken up, because there is still a tremendous shortage in this area in housing," said Robinson.

Meanwhile Melinda North says it feels good to be able to enjoy her own home with the knowledge that she can afford it.

"It's great," she said. "It's better than I could have ever imagined."

The Biloxi Housing Authority has several projects in the works, including another phase of the Hope Six Project called East End Homes. That phase will include 34 rental units on Maple Street. Officials say construction should begin in 2008. There are also plans to build more than 350 single family homes on Three Rivers Road just outside the city limits.

By Danielle Thomas

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