Crime cleanup changes face of Moss Point neighborhood

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Children playing in the park probably isn't what you would have seen two years ago at Ted B. Henson Homes.  At least it might not be the memory you'd take away.

"It was real bad," said Celeste Payne, who lives there now. "Drugs and alcohol in all these apartments and stuff like that."

Two years ago, Kimberly Stone became manager of the low-income property, which is run by Mississippi Regional Housing Authority.

"We had shootings here, we had fights, a lot of probably domestic disputes," Stone said.  "A lot of people hanging out drinking, partying."

Stone said through some upgrades and strict rule enforcement, the low-income complex has turned around completely. She said now the neighborhood is attracting a new crowd.

"When I first became employed here, there were several times that I became nervous to walk on the property," Stone said. "Now I go everywhere and walk everywhere and know everyone, and I don't have a sense of insecurity at all."

The complex boasts more than just increased safety. Over the past year, all units have undergone a complete renovation. The project officially finished two weeks ago, but Stone said new residents have been moving in since December.

"I used to sit in awe of the total transformation," Stone said.  "Now when I show units, I'm very proud of what I'm showing.  It's so great to walk someone into the new units and see their expression on their face."

The site impressed Darlene Hausler, whose disability forced her into low-income housing.

"My income had decreased by half, and I couldn't afford to live in a normal apartment," Hausler said.

Hausler said she was skeptical of the area, but she said the strict application process set her at ease.

"The procedure, it was a three hour interview," Hausler explained.  "Everything I had to go through, the background check, that made me feel comfortable."

She moved in two weeks ago.  She said since then, she's been pleasantly surprised at the facilities, as well as the neighborhood.

"After having lived here for two weeks, that's the proof," Hausler said.  "I mean, Labor Day weekend, nothing. Not even a firecracker."

Stone said the only real trouble in the neighborhood comes from non-residents who live nearby.  But she said she still works hard to enforce all the rules.

"I enforce the rules every day, repeatedly," Stone said.  "And so it's really become well known that if you don't follow the rules, then you don't get to stay in the Ted B. Henson Homes."

Stone said she's even had to turn down several applications from people who don't qualify as low-income.  She said the property is at full capacity now, but she takes applications all the time.

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