HOME grants ready for Pearl River County

Published 5:11 pm Thursday, April 12, 2007

Some Pearl River County citizens will not have to wait any longer for financial assistance to build and purchase new homes, thanks to a new home grant that recently received funding.

Cecil Boyd, owner and president of General Homes In Hattiesburg, said in a phone interview Tuesday that funding was recently made available for the HOME Investment Partnership Grant Program through the Mississippi Development Authority.

Fred Griffin, grant administrator for the MDA, said Tuesday the grant provides home buyers with $25,000 to be used towards the purchase of “newly-built, never occupied” homes, but families have to meet the grant’s income guidelines and qualify for a loan through a mortgage company.

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Griffin said there are eight categories for the annual income guidelines, justified by household size. These guidelines, updated annually, are established by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and individualized for each county. For example, maximum annual income for a single person household in Pearl River County would be $24,200, while for a couple it would be $27,650, and for a family of three members it would be $31,100. A complete set of guidelines can be found on the HUD website under Income Limits for the HOME program.

The HOME program accepts applications annually from county, city and non-profit organizations. The state uses a set of specific criteria to determine contract recipients. The funds are then dispersed in grant sizes vary from $100,000 to $250,000.

Pearl River County and the city of Poplarville both qualified for grants of $250,000 each. This will allow 10 homes to be built and purchased in the county, as well as 10 homes within Poplarville city limits.

The city of Picayune did not apply for the program, said Boyd. However, citizens wanting homes inside the city limits of Picayune may apply for the county grant, which allows for homes anywhere inside the county, said Griffin.

District I Supervisor Anthony Hales has been working with Boyd to get this grant approved. “I think it’s a wonderful thing and I only see that it can be helpful. It’s another avenue to bring affordable housing to Pearl River County. I think it’s a great opportunity for home buyers, especially with the needs for housing in this county,” said Hales in a phone interview Thursday.

Boyd said the three mortgage companies providing the loans for the program are Priority One Bank in Hattiesburg, Realty Mortgage in Jackson, and Wells Fargo in Tupelo.

To apply through Priority One Bank, contact Teresa Williams at (601) 261-9799 or (601) 466-5580. To contact Realty Mortgage, call Marshall Alexander at (601) 933-0318 or (601) 937-2929. To reach Wells Fargo, call Neely Turner at (866) 806-0772 or (662) 407-2251. Cecil Boyd can be reached at (601) 268-7432.

Hales said the best way to get more information or to apply for the grant is to contact Cecil Boyd or to contact the lenders directly because they will have more information about the grant than the county has.

Boyd, whose company is the building contractor for the program in Lamar, Forrest, and Pearl River counties, said the biggest obstacle the program is facing at the moment is the moratorium that has been imposed on the city water system in Poplarville. The moratorium, placed by the health department last spring due to capacity problems, prevents the city from adding new water taps to the system.

Griffin said there is a 24-month period from the time the funds are made available until the contract runs out, and the program is already six months into that time frame. If the moratorium is not lifted within the next 18 months, the grant money for the city of Poplarville will be lost.

Poplarville Mayor Billy Spiers was unavailable for comment.