Coast housing could outgrow demand by 2011

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - In just two years, the supply of housing could outgrow demand in the three coastal counties, this according to the Mississippi Housing Recovery Data Project. But, the study still points to one glaring problem.

"The big obstacle is affordability," says Charlie Wilkins, The Compass Group, LLC.

When it comes to renters, the study points to a growing group not seen before the storm.

"We found a number of households who were owners before the storm, who are probably going to be renters afterwards, who have extremely low incomes," says Wilkins.

There's a strong demand to meet the housing needs of those making $20,000 or less by way of subsidized rental units or more public housing.  For potential homeowners with lower incomes, the attention is focused on Mississippi cottages.

"We need to put more money into the permanent placement costs," says Gerald Blessey, Mississippi Coast Housing Director.

Overall, for homeowners, the issue of affordability centers on insurance and housing fees like taxes.  Blessey has started a think tank with local bank leaders looking at a revolving loan program to address the issue.

"It would help with down payment assistance and a second mortgage to help make payments more affordable," says Blessey.

While the study shows an overall surplus in housing, it points out three places still likely to face shortages - Pascagoula, Long Beach and the unincorporated areas of Hancock County.  Though there's no quick fix to the problem, MDA's Lee Youngblood say the study does provide a more chartered course.

"This is our map to guide the ship."