August 13, 2013 10:12:30 AM
The Columbus and Starkville housing authorities will receive nearly $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for large-scale improvements to their four public housing developments.
The HUD's Capital Fund Program grants will fund $19,248,499 to 48 public housing units across Mississippi. The Columbus Housing Authority will receive $654,152 for its three units. The Starkville Housing Authority will receive $323,913 for Conner Heights, its only development.
Columbus' three developments are Yorkville Apartments, which houses 100 family units, and Applewood Apartments and Stringer Manor Apartments, which both house 30 family units.
The housing developments receive the federal funding each year, said Mississippi Regional Housing Authority IV Executive Director Tommy Robinson.
"It's the main funding stream we use for all the capital improvements we do," Robinson said. "We meet with all the residents. We have public hearings and so forth to see what the needs are. Then, we meet with the maintenance and management people. We have a resident council we meet with and we put together what we feel like the most important needs are and work a five-year capital funding plan up. As we meet with them, we prioritize our needs from 1 to 5 based on a five-year funding cycle."
The funding is typically used on roof replacement and work on heating, ventilation and air conditioning units in the buildings. This year, though, an emphasis will be placed on handicap access improvements, Robinson said.
"That would include parking spaces, parking lots and...sidewalks," he said. "We're going to replace some screen doors, then we're going to do some work inside (the units) on handicap accessibility."
HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Ed Jennings Jr. said in a statement the federal program is taking "bold steps" to preserve affordable housing for low-income families.
"Housing authorities in Mississippi count on this funding to maintain and improve their public housing for many families, especially the most vulnerable -- our seniors," he said.
In addition to Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties, Region IV also serves the counties of Carroll, Choctaw, Clay, Grenada, Montgomery, Webster and Winston.
Yorkville Apartments consist of units ranging from one to four bedrooms designed for the disabled and hearing impaired. Stringer Manor also provides those amenities in three- and four-bedroom units.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.