Adams County pursuing HUD grant

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 4, 2010

NATCHEZ — Some of the most dilapidated local houses could soon be restored.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at its last meeting to pursue a grant under the HOME Program of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. President Darryl Grennell said you don’t have to be one of the homeowners for the grant program to affect you.

“It would actually help a lot of people in terms of living conditions,” Grennell said. “It would boost morale in various neighborhoods because of the beautification it would provide.

“It will also be an economic development tool because it would supply jobs — there would have to be construction.”

If granted, HUD would provide the capital needed to restore or rebuild houses for five area residents, Grennell said. The supervisors would also draw their home applications from the City of Natchez.

“In my opinion, there is a major need for it here,” Grennell said. “I periodically get calls asking if there are any home grants available, especially for rehabilitation.

“It has been a long time since we have had this type of program here in Natchez.”

Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development District, which Grennell said administers grant writing for the county in absence of a county grant office, would write the applications for the area.

SWMPDD Planner Jim Mangum said the application was still in its early stages, and the planning district had yet to select the five families. Mangum said the program was extremely competitive, so it was critical to find low-income families who own houses in horrible condition.

“Either all five applicants get it, or none do,” Mangum said. “One application could blow it.”

The home needs to be in really bad shape, preferably with four or more people living in it, Mangum said.

“The best way to gauge if the house applies is to drive by it,” he said. “If you are shocked and appalled that people are living in such conditions, that is the type of house they are looking to restore.”

Mangum said the family’s combined income must be less than $20,000 a year to qualify for assistance.

“We are looking for a family that makes $10,000 to $12,000, max,” Mangum said. “We are looking for situations where a mother, grandmother, and a few kids live in the home.

“The mother has a meager income, the grandmother is living on minimum Social Security and the kids don’t have any income.”

Mangum said Natchez has people who live in similar conditions. If the applicant families cooperate, he said Natchez has a good chance at receiving the grant.

SWMPDD is also pursuing grants for down payment assistance and modifying homes for disabled residents.