Scholarship helps the Necaises "reach" their home buying dream

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Three south Mississippians who spend their days working for the public are spending their nights in newly purchased homes. Those three government workers are the first recipients of a Reach Mississippi scholarship.

The scholarship gave them access to a down payment assistance grant program. And that program made the home purchases possible.

The Necaises had a seemingly endless pile of papers to sign. Those closing papers unlocked a whole new world of opportunities for them. Because of the Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation's Reach Mississippi program, Mandie and Craig Necaise came up with the down payment to buy a home in Harrison County.

"It's just a wonderful feeling," a beaming Mandie said, "a wonderful, wonderful feeling to know that our two children now have a home that they can call like truly their own."

Craig Necaise is a three-and-a-half year veteran of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department. Before that, he worked on the Pass Christian police force. In fact, he was one of the officers who narrowly escaped from the city's library when Katrina was battering it with water.

Last October, Necaise became eligible for a Reach Mississippi scholarship. When asked if he would be able to buy a home without the scholarship, Craig said, "Not this home." The home has just two bedrooms. But it's the six acres it sits on that became so attractive to the family.

Reach Mississippi was established so employers could put up money to help employees tap into a down payment assistance program. Here's how it works. If companies put up $10,000, Reach Mississippi would add $30,000. The combined $40,000 total would be an employee's down payment for a home purchase.

Because counties, cities, school districts and non-profits can't put up money for their workers, the governor raised private money, and put those donations into scholarships. The scholarship is helping people like Craig Necaise move into their own homes.

Kimberly LaRosa is with the Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation, the group that manages the Reach Mississippi program.

"I mean they give back all the time. And this is our way of giving back to them," LaRosa explained.

As the Necaises walked around the inside of their new home, and discussed what improvements needed to be made, Mrs. Necaise smiled and said, "Can't wait to get started."

Her husband echoed that sentiment.

"It's something we've been waiting for a long time. Something we never thought we'd get to. And now we're here. So, it's a dream come true," he said.

The other two scholarship recipients who closed deals to buy homes on Friday work for the city of Pascagoula, and the city of Gulfport.

So far, 267 government workers and non-profit employees have qualified for Reach Mississippi's scholarship assistance. And additional 410 people have gotten their bosses to participate in the Reach Mississippi home buying program.