Feds Courted for Housing

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Meridian Housing Authority executive director Derwin Jackson is in Washington, D.C., seeking a federal grant of $18 million to rebuild Victory Village on 46th Avenue in Meridian.

Jackson's plan is ambitious, beyond just replacing the old public housing.

"Another big part of this whole plan is the community service piece of this," said Jackson. "To help provide job training, educational training to help residents become more self sufficient, as well as to help home owners, to move out, to get them jobs."

Obtaining these federal dollars is no sure thing. The city has been turned down previously three times and this is the final year of the program. It is not in the projected 2004 federal budget.

The Housing Authority did get $1.1 million last year to tear down the Victory Village buildings, but so far nothing to rebuild the area.

"It's not about just coming back and totally just the site of Victory Village," said Jackson. "It's targeting the entire neighborhood and revitalizing the entire neighborhood. It's not just looking at one site but looking at the entire surrounding neighborhood and that takes a big effort."

It will also take big dollars. The federal grant would be only about half of what will be needed.

"We're applying to ask for $18 million which includes our assurance that we can leverage at least dollar for dollar," Jackson said. "So our project is really going to be a part of about a $40 million total project."

But without the federal funding the project will not be possible. The former Victory Village will be just vacant lots in an area that once was home to 140 Meridian families.