City’s housing projects on hold; others must give OKs

Published 1:14 pm Sunday, December 24, 2017

City officials will have to wait on the approval of multiple state agencies including the Mississippi Home Corp. before taking action to remove and replace or rehab eight dilapidated homes in the city.

The city has a $505,000 grant to improve the eight homes. Two of the homes will be razed and rebuilt. The others will be rehabilitated.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Friday authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to send a letter to the Mississippi Home Corp. indicating the properties and neighboring properties have been inspected and declared “free of hazardous materials, contamination, toxic chemicals, gasses and radioactive substances” that could affect the property or the people in the homes.

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The board also approved sending letters claiming the housing project will not adversely affect the environment, create unacceptable noise levels, and not sitting over underground fuel or chemical storage tanks.

City housing director Gertrude Young said the city is waiting on reports from 14 separate state agencies, which performed their own separate inspections of the properties.

“They have to do an environmental study and say that it’s OK, which we’re confident it will be, because there are none of the hazardous materials they had mentioned,” city housing director Gertrude Young said. “So once we get that report back and we send it to Mississippi Home Corp.”

If there are no problems, she said, work can begin on the homes.

City officials were notified Vicksburg was getting the grant in October. Young said Vicksburg was selected as one of the target cities for the grant “because we are one of the few cities demolishing our own properties through our city funds.

“We’re kind of the pilot,” she said when the grant was announced. “The money is coming originally from the state Treasury Department. We can make applications for funds up to $4 million.”

Community development director Victor Gray-Lewis said the money will allow the city to demolish 31 homes, but the city will start the program with eight, because the grant requires the homes involved have a clear title.

Under the program, once the building is demolished, the property owner sells the property to the partner organization called a “blight partner,” which buys the land and builds a new home on the property.

One of the organizations signing on as a partner is Habitat for Humanity.

Other organizations include Construction Ministries of Jackson and Perfect Touch of Meridian will serve as partners with the city.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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