GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, there was a great cry for more affordable housing in South Mississippi.
In 2006, the Region VII housing authority created the South Mississippi Housing and Development Corporation, a non-profit organization with a goal of organizing public and private money to increase the supply of affordable housing in the area.
They have now partnered with the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership to rebuild the former L.C. Jones public housing complex.
"The SMHDC was designed to take the older projects like L.C. Jones and begin the development into a new modernized structure.” said Executive Director of Region 8 Housing Authority Jessie Billups.
Billups said it has been a long battle for SMHDC against local, state and federal bureaucracies to get to the point of building new housing.
“Dealing with the HUD and dealing with the partner agencies and the financing and various obstacles,” said Billups. “Here we are in 2020 finally to the point where we are getting ready to bring in a new development.”
The People’s Bank has teamed up with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas to assist in funding the redevelopment of North Park Estates in Gulfport through an Affordable Housing Program grant.
About 90 units of the old complex were demolished, most of which were so run down that they were vacant.
L.C. Jones was built in 1959 and for years, it had a reputation of being an unsafe neighborhood. But, the residents and the Region 8 Housing Authority have worked hard to change that reputation.
Alize Williams said she was scared to move to the neighborhood two years ago, but was pleasantly surprised to see how it had evolved
“It’s not what it used to be, if you really want to know, it’s really not,” said Williams. “It’s quiet as all outdoors out here. I like it.”
Now under the new name of North Park Estates, the rebuilt development could do more than just improve the housing stock in North Gulfport when it’s completed this spring.
“We’re very proud that we’re going to bring something new to this community," said Billups. "And hopefully it will be the beginning of a whole new revitalization of this area.”
The first phase of North Park Estates will have 80 duplex apartments. The second phase will add another 86 apartments.
A groundbreaking ceremony will be held on Thursday Oct. 22 to celebrate the project.