Ground broken for apartments serving disabled, homeless veterans

BILOXI — Officials have broken ground on an apartment complex in Biloxi that will serve disabled, homeless veterans.

HomePort II, the second phase of a project completed on the same site in December 2012, will have a total of six units to house disabled, homeless veterans.

Representatives from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and The Peoples Bank attended the groundbreaking. The entities awarded Back Bay Mission a $60,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant in 2013 to assist with the project’s construction costs.

The local housing authority is providing a federal veteran’s housing voucher toward the rent. Veterans living at the complex will pay 30 percent of their income toward rent and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers will pay the remainder. If a veteran has no income, he or she will pay only $50 per month toward rent.

All units will be one-bedroom units with 633 square feet of living space. A wheelchair ramp will be installed for accessibility to the units. The apartment units will be completely furnished. Appliances include a refrigerator, stove, microwave, washer and dryer.

Everett Lewis, associate for housing initiatives at Back Bay Mission, said the AHP grant fills a funding gap for the $556,000 project.

“It allows us to move forward on the project,” Lewis said. “Without it, we would have had to fill that gap in the funding with some other means, possibly debt or raising funds from another source. We’ve done a pretty good job of raising private funds from individuals, churches, and community groups, but to raise an additional $60,000 would have been a daunting task. It definitely would have delayed the project.”

Lewis said construction will take about nine months, with the apartment complex opening in fall 2014.

AHP grants are awarded through FHLB Dallas member financial institutions, such as The Peoples Bank, to assist in the development of affordable owner-occupied and rental housing for very low- to moderate-income households. In 2013, FHLB Dallas awarded $11.3 million in AHP funding to 36 projects across its five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. The funding will result in the creation or rehabilitation of 1,654 housing units across the District.

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