January 6, 2020

Hope Enterprise Corporation Spearheads Resource Kit to Better Understand the Need for Housing in the Mississippi Delta

Orange sign that reads "Let's talk about housing!" on a table

Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE) is a nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) that strengthens communities, builds assets and improves lives in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee by mobilizing financing and related technical assistance to address a range of challenges that confront low-mobility people and places.

Like most rural towns in the Deep South, throughout the Mississippi Delta, housing stock is extremely limited, aging and inefficient. A report was developed based on community engagement and field mapping, identifying the demand for housing, family size and economic indicators for one Delta community.

HOPE, in partnership with Delta Design Build Workshop, developed Rural Housing Context and Potential as a resource kit and the first step toward the development of a multi-disciplinary, affordable housing strategy focused, first, on sharing knowledge among key partners in housing and, second, the construction of new and in-fill housing in the Mississippi Delta’s small towns. The towns of Drew and Moorhead will be the first locations where new housing will be built. 

Rural Housing Context and Potential includes:

  • A summary of housing demand context in areas with shrinking populations and declining markets
  • A review of generally accepted affordable housing tenets and how they apply to the rural setting
  • A tool for rethinking the definition of the 30% “affordability” rule
  • Information on the inherent vulnerability of homeowners and residents based on the industry and exacerbated by limited, and sometimes absent, oversight in the Mississippi Delta
  • An evaluation of the impact of driving down the cost of construction on various long-term outcomes
  • Engagement practices and opportunities for housing as one of many components necessary for impactful community development
  • Curriculum training and templates for builders, small municipalities, community development entities and current and prospective homeowners
  • A strategy for developing new housing opportunities in the Mississippi Delta with limited subsidies

Through the research and engagement processes, the document evolved, becoming a larger set of tools and handbook.The resource kit provides specific guidance and information on thorough engagement and sustainable development in communities across the Mississippi Delta and beyond. This research began with a market study, followed by a design package. Trainings are being conducted in small towns as a residential design resource.  

Different versions of the document are designed to be used by various audiences: developers, financiers, designers, small contractors and homeowners.

There are also sections in the resource kit with information that can be used by current and future homeowners, with steps on how to:

  • Hire a contractor
  • Secure subsidies and financing
  • Take care of their home 

The realities that face rural communities in the Mississippi Delta and the limit of availability and affordability of housing are analyzed throughout Rural Housing Context and Potential. The resource elevates responses to those challenges – both ongoing initiatives and potential opportunities identified through the research.

As the next steps of the work begin, HOPE and Delta DB are challenging themselves to transfer the accumulated knowledge into the hands of stakeholders and to demonstrate pathways to creation of new housing that is healthy, affordable and a source of stability for numerous families in the region.

Learn more about HOPE and their role in implementing this resource kit in this grantee feature

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