Program could help build houses

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 16, 1999

Natchez and Adams County could benefit from a state program to build new houses for moderate income families.

James L. Johnston, community development coordinator for the city, presented Adams County supervisors with a proposal Monday that could build 34 new houses in the city and county with funds from the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development.

&uot;The state legislature appropriated $5 million for public service,&uot; Johnston said. &uot;They placed the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development in charge of preparing the applications, receiving the applications and then following through on this program of constructing new homes for moderate income families.&uot;

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Qualifying homeowners cannot exceed 115 percent of the median income of Adams County. Johnston calculated that income cap to be $36,500.

The board of aldermen as well as supervisors have responded favorably to the idea.

&uot;Anytime you can put money to work on housing, you should,&uot; said Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown. &uot;These houses will add to the ad valorem tax base, provide a new source of housing product, and allow people to move upward.&uot;

&uot;Of course we went on record as being in favor of it,&uot; said Virginia Salmon, president of the Adams County board of supervisors. &uot;We’re simply a vehicle for getting it done. This program is very healthy in that it puts the responsibility where it belongs – with the developer and the homeowner.&uot;

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sept. 15 in the Adams County board room in the supervisors building on State Street. Final applications for Department of Economic and Community Development funds are due Oct. 7. Applicants for these houses would still be required to qualify for a conventional home loan, Johnston said.

&uot;The banks that participate in the program will still have to go through their existing lending practices,&uot; he said.

The houses would be three-bedroom, two-bath houses made of brick veneer with just under 1,300 square feet of interior living space. Lot sizes are expected to be roughly 80 feet by 120 feet, Johnston said. The price on the houses is expected to be around $70,000.

If both the city and the county participate in the program, it could represent $2.4 million to the local economy in construction labor and materials.