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Housing authority unveils a new home

The Picayune Housing Authority held an open house Thursday afternoon, unveiling its latest single family dwelling, ready for occupancy, located at 500 Lewis Circle. This four bedroom unit joins the other 95 public housing units in the area and is unique in that it is a completely stand alone unit and it is completely handicap accessible.

The project, spearheaded by Executive Director Mary Davis, was started on April 28, 2004, when the Picayune Housing Authority submitted a Development Program to HUD requesting funding under HUD’s Replacement Housing Factor Plan to build a unique, four bedroom, two bath, detached, single-family, handicap accessible unit. Funding was approved by HUD to be dispersed in annual increments over a five year period.

While the project was temporarily placed on hold due to the rising costs of construction in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the project was revived in October, 2008. According to Davis, the Picayune Housing Authority advertised for bids and was able to award a contract to Trademark Commercial Construction Company to proceed with the unit as planned.

Officials of the Picayune as well as surrounding area housing authorities, HUD representatives and others attended the open house which included a small ceremony. A prayer led by Representative Mark Formby, kicked off the proceedings.

HUD was represented at the open house by John Spears, Facilities Management from the Jackson HUD office who explained some of the difficulties with the project. He said that because it was the only building being built — price per unit cost is higher when only one unit is being built at a time — and because of the added expense of making the unit completely handicap accessible, the main issue was getting the dwelling built within budget. He added that the project only came to fruition because of Davis’ persistence.

Council member-elect Larry Breland, precinct four, was also on hand to offer a few words. He commended Davis for her “brainchild” and said it was a blessing to be able to help those less fortunate.

The Picayune Housing Authority will be taking applications for the unit and are asking that all inquiries be directed to the Housing Authority’s central office located at 1511 7th Avenue.