Need for housing continues to grow

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 14, 2001

According to the City of Natchez’s comprehensive plan, an additional 1,851 multiple family housing units will be needed by the year 2020, for a total of 5,035 new apartments, duplexes or townhouses.

The findings are no surprise to Sue Stedman, alderwoman for Ward 3 and a real estate agent.

&uot;There’s always a demand,&uot; Stedman said. &uot;I don’t think you can ever have enough of that kind of housing.&uot;

And while the need is ongoing, Stedman said she believes Natchez has done a good job of providing housing for its citizens.

If nothing else, Stedman said she believes the city’s LUMPs program, in which Large Unused Municipal Properties are &uot;adaptively reused,&uot; is evidence of the city’s commitment to housing.

Brumfield Apartments, Oak Towers and the Carpenter School No. 1 Elderly Apartments under construction now are all examples of successful LUMPs projects, she said.

Stedman said she believes local government has almost a &uot;moral obligation&uot; to see that its citizens have adequate housing.

Alan Ingram, executive director of the Natchez Housing Authority, agreed that housing is a basic human need.

&uot;Everybody, I think, deserves a place to have a roof over their head,&uot; Ingram said. &uot;It’s really a basic human right to have a safe, decent and sanitary place to live.&uot;

And while adequate housing of any kind is a requirement, owning a home of your own is the ideal.

&uot;It’s the American dream,&uot; Ingram said. &uot;Nobody wants to be subject to others’ rules and regulations.&uot;

Gretchen Kuechler, assistant city planner, said owning may not be for everybody, but, as a first-time homeowner herself, she can personally understand the desire.

&uot;You feel like you’re more a part of things,&uot; she said.

&uot;You have more of a stake in what goes on in your house, on your street, in your neighborhood, especially if you have kids.&uot;

And Kuechler said people are more likely to better maintain their own home as opposed to one they rent, a fundamental idea behind programs encouraging home ownership. Several Natchez aldermen have said they are in favor of a plan to construct 40 affordable, rent-to-own townhouses, and are anxious to help developers find an appropriate site.

Ward 4 Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West said the townhouses would be an asset to any neighborhood in which they are built.

&uot;Once someone owns something, they take more pride in it,&uot; West said. And that benefits not only the homeowner, but the entire neighborhood, he said.

Kuechler said the same. &uot;I think that’s what is important in home ownership is you want a good neighbor and you want to be a good neighbor.&uot;