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franklin county times

Grant could mean more than new buildings

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
March 14, 2001
With a potential $35 million grant, Meridian Housing Authority officials believe they can build more than just buildings they can help build a safer, more self-sufficient public housing community.
Mosby's firm was hired by the Meridian Housing Authority to help apply for a Hope VI grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mosby and MHA officials met with residents of the housing authority Tuesday to discuss what Hope VI could do for the city if it received the grant.
Mosby said Hope VI would provide funding to demolish three target housing sites within the city, which would then be rebuilt with more of a focus on a better quality of life for the residents who live there. The three target sites would be Victory Village, J.T. Davis Courts and Frank Berry Courts.
Mosby said those changes would promote more safety and inspire residents of the housing authority to take more pride in their neighborhood.
The program advocates partnerships between local businesses and civic organizations as a way not only to improve public housing, but also to modify and revamp existing structures around the units.
Mosby said HUD now looks at more creative ways to design and build housing projects that could be used in Meridian if the grant application is approved. Local architectural influences would be a key ingredient in designing new units so they blend in with the community's overall look.
Hope VI would also implement new training and job placement programs in order to help residents move out of the projects and eventually become homeowners themselves.
Meridian applied for the grant unsuccessfully in 1999 and 2000, but MHA Executive Director Derwin Jackson says he believes the third time might be the charm.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.