City seeks more applicants for Kings housing program

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 25, 2002

One of the new Kings houses sits ready for occupancy.(The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

[06/25/02]The city wants more applicants for new homes in Kings because a program there is not getting off the ground.

“I guess it’s just a sign of the times,” said Beatrice Moore, Vicksburg’s director of housing and community development for the city, of the fact that one of 125 families has met the criteria and followed through to buy a house.

The project to build 21 homes off North Washington Street in a low- to moderate-income area the city annexed began 18 months ago.

Families of four with income less than $37,800, for example, could qualify for up to $15,000 in down payment and closing cost grants, pay a note of less than $500 a month and become owners of $40,000 to $60,000 new homes.

Out of the initial 125 applicants, some dropped out of the program because they had moved or lost interest, 28 had severe credit problems or had declared bankruptcy, five were over income limits and 16 did not make enough money to qualify for loans, Moore said.

There is other public housing in the area. The Vicksburg Housing Authority, which operates independently of City Hall, manages the Waltersville Estates complex and there is some Section 8 housing in the area. Under Section 8, tenants’ rental payments to private landlords are subsidized through public funds.

The city’s deal is with Quality Development Inc., a Jackson-based company, to build 21 homes on a four-acre lot at Roberts and North Washington streets. The two- and three-bedroom homes would appraise between $40,000 and $60,000.

No city funds are being spent on construction, but the city would provide $15,000 of initial expenses through a state grant.

“We originally did it for the flood buy-out program for people who wanted to move, but wanted to stay in their neighborhood,” Moore said.

In the buyout program, federal funds have been used to purchase homes not far from the site that are subject to backwater flooding. The program is voluntary, and there are about 27 structures in the area of Ford and Williams streets that qualify.

So far, Quality Development has built two homes, but construction is on hold while more buyers are identified. The sale of the first house is expected to close this week, Moore said.

Overall, the city had received $250,000 from the Mississippi Development Authority under the 1999 HOME Investment Partnerships Program. The funds were combined with $63,840 in home assistance loans to offer assistance for home buyers.

If no qualified applicants can be found for the program through the city, the developer can sell the homes and the city can use the funds in another area.

The city has been offering free home buyer classes and credit counseling through Consumer Credit Counseling Services to help applicants qualify for the program, Moore said.