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Families Getting New Homes for the Holidays on Mississippi Gulf Coast

By Rhonda Miller | Published 22 Dec 2011 10:14am | comments
Biloxi resident Dong Nguyen lost her home to Hurricane Katrina. This holiday season she and her three children will move into a new home on the same site with the help of Hope Community Development Agency. Project manager Bruce Palmer takes care of some finishiing touches.

It’s been six years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast. While the area is slowly rebuilding, MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports some Biloxi residents are having their hope renewed this holiday season, four walls at a time.

Two delivery men are dragging a dolly with a new stove up the steps of one of the houses that Hope built. That’s Hope Community Development Agency, a non-profit that’s rehabbed and built 900 homes across the Mississippi coast since Hurricane Katrina.  Bruce Palmer is the project manager.

"This is the final stage, what we call the punch list stage. We’re getting the appliances in, getting the countertops set, sinks in." says Palmer. "We’re trying to get this done today."

A small crew is getting it done, drilling cabinets to install the new microwave. The approaching holidays have thinned out the supply of volunteers. But Palmer says their hearts and hands have made it possible for a family to be in this new home for the holidays.

"We had a crew come out of Pennsylvania, and in one week’s time they had all the sheetrock hung and taped and floated. And then the next week we had another group and they came in and did the floors, the tile, all the trim work, set the door frames, they did good. So in two week’s time we went from a shelled in building to where you’re looking at it right now," Palmer says. "And it all comes down to the volunteers.

Volunteers that helped make the season bright for Dong Nguyen, a  single mother of three children.  She says she’s happy to have her own place again. They lived on this same spot until their house was destroyed by Katrina. For the past six years, they’ve been crowding in with family and friends. 

Nguyen says she’s thankful for Hope and feels very blessed.

Hope Community Development Agency’s Chief Operating Officer Tom Jones says getting families into affordable homeownership come through grants, donations and the labor donated by volunteers.

"That’s what’s contributing partly to our comeback. It’s us being able to put people in homes, there’s just no way they could do it otherwise," says Jones.

Hope is putting four families into new or rehabbed homes before the New Year. And if there’s anything that restores a family’s hope, it’s being home for the holidays.

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Biloxi resident Dong Nguyen lost her home to Hurricane Katrina. This holiday season she and her three children will move into a new home on the same site with the help of Hope Community Development Agency. Project manager Bruce Palmer takes care of some finishiing touches.


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