Winfield wants county link for way to rehab rundown homes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mayor Paul Winfield said Tuesday he hopes the city can partner with Warren County to create a redevelopment authority and create a land trust to salvage dilapidated homes and provide more affordable housing.

“This is a way for us to grow our economy horizontally, and not just by raising your taxes,” the mayor said as guest speaker of the Vicksburg Chapter of the Home Builders Association of Mississippi. 

Winfield said the land trust would provide incentives for owners of rundown homes or vacant land to donate their property to the redevelopment authority, which, in turn, would redevelop properties or build homes to sell or lease.

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“This would be a way for us to funnel state and federal grant dollars to our local economy, and it would be a way for us to contract with local developers who employ our citizens and spend their money in our community. It’s a win-win for all of us,” Winfield said. “This is not anything novel or new. It’s being done all over our country and all over our state.”

Winfield noted the city, county and partnering housing agencies were recently passed over for up to $35 million in grant funds to create affordable housing through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program. He said the redevelopment agency could begin to do the work the grant would have provided for — primarily, purchasing dilapidated properties and redeveloping them as affordable housing.

The mayor also told the 20 home builders association members on hand that he is focused on getting Vicksburg renters to purchase homes.

“I think it will be a travesty if there are as many renters when I leave as when I came,” said Winfield, who took office in June. “We all know when you have a lot of renters, you don’t have a lot of people who feel like they have ownership of their community.”

Providing more affordable housing in Vicksburg was a cornerstone of Winfield’s campaign last year. The mayor said the redevelopment authority is still in the planning stages, and he hopes to meet with county officials and local industry leaders soon to get their opinions and buy in.

“We need to determine what we can afford to do and what our target is,” he said. “It’s going to be really important to get buy in and positive response from your industry, and I look forward to discussing this with the county and other stakeholders.”

Contact Steve Sanoski at