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Mississippi Housing Choice Voucher Participant Becomes First Official Homeowner with Habitat for Humanities National

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HUD's Jackson, Mississippi Hub Office of Public Housing awarded Mississippi Regional Housing Authority No. VIII[Image:  Awards Ceremony] an outstanding service award for being the first public housing agency in the Nation to officially partner with and have the first Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program participant become a Habitat for Humanity (HFH) homeowner during the HFH Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This office started a partnership with Habitat for Humanities National last year and committed to a 2-year pilot. We have provided technical assistance to our Mississippi PHAs and held meetings with them and HFH to work through how this program could be combined to serve more Mississippi families. On May 14, 2008, Alethea Grant was our first success, but there are 10 more HCV families underway as part of the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Habitat Build along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They are building 108 Habitat homes in Mississippi Gulf Coast counties as part of this Build. This may also help our coastal area recover from Hurricane Katrina.

Alethea Grant, the 26-year-old mother of two, made history as becoming the first official housing choice voucher participant to own a Habitat for Humanity home in the Nation. Ms. Grant has accomplished one of the two goals she set for herself when she was a little girl - owning her first home and becoming a registered nurse.

Fighting back tears in front of HUD officials and Habitat volunteers helping her build her home on Dupont Avenue, Grant thanked God and those around her for making her dream a reality. A nursing assistant at Singing River Hospital, Grant added she plans to fulfill the registered nurse goal after she starts school in the fall. Instead of paying a landlord rent for her home, Grant -- a lifelong apartment occupant -- said she will be able to buy her home under the program.

[Image: Front of Carter House]Grant's three-bedroom home is near the center of Habitat's 25th annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. In Pascagoula, 20 homes are being restored or built over several south central blocks.

"If it wasn't for what you've done, this wouldn't have been possible," Holly Bellino, Director of the Jackson Office of Public Housing, told Habitat volunteers, who gathered from across the world to participate in the Carter project. Grant said she has been part of construction from the slab to placing vinyl siding, crowning and other exterior work. "It's just amazing to watch the house go up, and so quickly," she said of the process. "I never would have known where to start. I thank God and the volunteers and feel so blessed to be part of this."
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