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Affordable housing critical to growth

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Dec. 12, 2000
If Meridian wants to grow and expand its industrial and economic base, the city will have to focus its energy on ensuring there are enough affordable homes in the area, community leaders said on Monday.
U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., and Mayor John Robert Smith were among more than a dozen citizens and public officials who participated in a housing roundtable discussion held at Union Station and sponsored by Mississippi Partnership office of the Fannie Mae group.
The group said if the community wants to grow it must provide enough homes to allow industries to come in and existing industries to expand.
One area discussed for its residential living potential was the downtown. Smith said projects like Columbus developer Chris Chain's downtown apartment complex on Front Street and the Rosenbaum Condominiums are examples of what can be done downtown, but lower-cost housing also needs to be part of the plan.
Public officials told Pickering he could help by trying to cut away government red tape people experience when applying for government programs to subsidize housing.
Pickering was also asked to look into the city's flood plain zoning. The mayor said some areas of the city are designated in the flood plain, despite the fact they have never flooded. He said federal officials may need to re-examine the way flood plains are determined.
Pickering said the issue of home ownership is important not only because resident families contribute to the tax base, but also because they become more involved with the community once they are "invested" in it.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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