Best Practices

Mayor Kane Ditto

The Jackson Metro Housing Partnership

The Jackson Metro Housing Partnership was formed in 1992 with the goal of bringing the strengths and resources of the Jackson community together to increase the number of home owners in our city. The City of Jackson, financial institutions, private business and non-profit organizations are all part of the partnership. This alliance, unprecedented in the history of the city, has gone from an idea to a strong, visible presence in the community in just three years.

The City of Jackson, like virtually every city in the United States, is coping with the problem of sub-standard housing in many neighborhoods. At the same time, our economy is very strong (the unemployment rate in Jackson was 3.9 percent in March 1995) and there are many people who would like to become homeowners but might not qualify through conventional means. The Jackson Metro Housing Partnership makes this dream possible.

The City of Jackson plays a major role by sending 85 percent of the federal money it receives for housing directly to the partnership. The city also provides infrastructure improvements to areas targeted by the partnership, ranging from street resurfacing to new sewer systems. In addition, the city works with the State of Mississippi to acquire property that has been forfeited to the state for tax delinquency and "sells" the property to the partnership for as little as $1.

Services provided by the Jackson Metro Housing Partnership range from home loans for existing houses to working with groups such as Habitat for Humanity to construct new homes on vacant inner city lots. Although the services they can provide are wide-ranging, the partnership specializes in working with people. According to partnership director Phil Eide, "If someone else can accomplish a task better than we can, we let them do it!"

All of Mississippi's largest banks are members of the partnership, and their representatives serve on a joint loan committee to ensure compliance with federal guidelines and adequate credit reviews. Enthusiastic support from banks and utility companies enabled the partnership to raise an initial $16 million loan fund to participate in federal programs.

The first loan was made in September 1993 and from there the program has taken off; 100 loans were closed within the first year, and more than 1,000 people have inquired about the program. In addition, more than 800 people have completed a special training program for first-time home buyers. Evidence of the program's success is reflected in the fact that, as of May 1995, 96 percent of all JMHP loan customers are making their mortgage payments on time.

One of the most exciting projects the Jackson Metro Housing Partnership has underway is called the "Model Block." This is a two-block area of midtown Jackson that, until recently, was filled with dilapidated housing, overgrown lots and crime-infested single-bedroom apartments. The area was not only an eyesore, its presence made housing improvements currently underway more difficult. Now all of that is changing.

The partnership is renovating the apartment complexes into livable, two- and three-bedroom apartments for families. They are also working with Habitat for Humanity to construct new single family housing where only shacks once stood. The City of Jackson is helping by making major infrastructure improvements, including a complete reworking of the street, curbs and storm drains, new streetlights and a new sewer system. When completed, the model block will be a prototype for other areas to deal with some of the most persistent problems plaguing America's cities!

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (601) 960-1084

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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