Move by Vicksburg officials a good one in renovating for affordable housing

Published 8:26 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week took the first steps toward building affordable housing in Vicksburg.

The board last Wednesday authorized city clerk Walter Osborne to advertise for bids to raze three homes on Franklin Street to make way for three new homes to be built on the soon-to-be vacant lots.

The demolition is part of a blight elimination program funded by a $165,000 Mississippi Home Corp. grant to remove and replace blighted homes. The city was awarded the grant in June, and unlike so many grants, the city is not required to put up matching funds.

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Under the blight elimination program, the city will remove selected homes with a clear title. The blight partner, a nonprofit corporation, buys the dilapidated property and builds the new home on the site after the old building is removed. The new home is then sold to a new owner.

Vicksburg is the second city in Mississippi to be awarded a blight elimination grant, city housing director Gertrude Young said in June. The $165,000 is expected do 11 properties under the program at $15,000 for each home — enough for the blight partner to buy the property, close on the property, and for the demolition. The partner builds the new home at its own expense.

Construction Ministries of Madison, one of the city’s three blight partners will build the new homes on the Franklin Street sites. The other two blight partners are Perfect Touch Contractor of DeKalb and Warren County Habitat for Humanity. Each will build new homes replacing vacant, dilapidated homes under the grant.

The blight elimination program is an innovative way for cities to eliminate vacant, dilapidated homes no longer fit for habitation with new, affordable homes for families looking to be first time homebuyers or moving into the area and looking for a place to live.

And it doesn’t take much looking around Vicksburg to know that we have a number of blighted homes. That, combined with the need for affordable housing in this community makes Vicksburg an ideal candidate to a program like the blight removal program, and our city leaders need to be congratulated for taking the steps to get involved in the program and seek grants to create spaces for new homes.

It’s a good start at addressing two serious problems in our community.