By Shanderia K. Posey
Decent, affordable housing in the heart of Jackson is what East Village Estates is all about.
The new subdivision, located near the Jackson Medical Mall, is the result of years of hard work by the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation along with partners – the state of Mississippi, Mississippi Home Corporation, The Richman Group Affordable Housing Corporation, Columbus Bank and Trust/Synovus Bank, city of Jackson and the subdivision development team, including Charter Consulting.
A grand opening held May 19 brought together local and state leaders and new residents.
East Village Estates consists of 44 two-story, 1,520 square foot townhouses each with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. Amenities include 9-foot ceilings, two-car garages, energy efficient windows, full brick siding, architectural shingles, landscaping with 15 years of lawn service, a 2,500 square foot community center with a business center in it and a community playground.
Plans for phase II of East Village Estates, which will include 50 townhouses and a soccer field, are underway.
Clarence Chapman of Charter Consulting explained how the lease-purchase program works.
East Village residents pay $668 monthly to lease a unit. After 15 years, they will be able to purchase the townhouse for $50,000, no money down at 8 percent interest with a guaranty that their mortgage payments will be less than the rent payments. All 44 units are occupied and there’s a waiting list for those interested to become residents.
Residents went through a thorough screening process including verification of income, credit and criminal background check and counseling. To qualify, residents could earn no more than 60 percent of the area median income, which is $36,330 annually, but residents can increase their income and remain tenants.
“After they move in, they can make $1 million a year, and still have the same rent and access and rights to all the benefits of the program,” Chapman said.
The program is designed to encourage residents to promote themselves and not penalize them if they do. “Our lease purchase benefits are a tremendous tool for our residents. When our residents sign a lease, they in essence get a $120,000 tax free gift.”
Community enrichment seminars will also be provided to help residents improve skills in areas of finances, safety, health, continuing their education and recognizing emergencies.
Charter Consulting, which has been developing the subdivision for almost two years, picked up where the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation left off in its efforts to build homes.
Primus Wheeler, executive director of the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation, said the foundation’s efforts to redevelop the once blighted area resulted in four homes built in seven years. With the pace of work unsatisfactory, Wheeler sought assistance from Charter Consulting.
“We came to the neighborhood in 2001. It looked like they had dropped a bomb in here. Many of the homes were an eyesore,” said Wheeler. The foundation went to work by cleaning up the neighborhood and making a strong effort to not displace anyone.
Wheeler acknowledged that Dr. Aaron Shirley, founder of the Jackson Medical Mall, was the visionary behind improving the community as well as serving the medically underserved. “Let’s change our zip code not change zip codes,” was the sentiment of Shirley’s vision, Wheeler said.
Former Gov. William Winter applauded the development saying it was a day of celebration. Winter reminisced on moving to Jackson exactly 60 years ago.
“We have seen Jackson change in many ways, but there are those who say, well we’re changing the wrong way. Let me tell you something, I remember what Jackson looked like in 1956 … I remember when half the people in Jackson were not recognized as first-class citizens … Now we’ve come a long way … and Jackson is a much better place to live than it was when I moved here years ago and don’t let anybody tell you different. I tell you I feel better about Jackson now than I ever have.”
Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber commented on the housing.
“This says that we are vibrant. This says that people still find a reason to invest in the great city of Jackson despite all of the challenges we have seen over the years,” said Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber.
Mother and daughter, Debra Tarvin and Shervondria Mack, 23, moved into East Village Estates in late February. They allowed those attending the grand opening to tour their townhome, which featured hardwood floors, beautiful kitchen cabinetry and more.
“I lived in the Washington Addition (before moving to East Village Estates). I’m glad they are bringing back the neighborhood ‘cause I know how it was,” said Tarvin. “When I moved in, I couldn’t believe the beauty it had to be in a neighborhood like this.”
Phase II of East Village Estates is in the final financing phase. Those interested in becoming residents should contact the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation at (601) 982-8467.
Shanderia K. Posey can be reached at email@example.com.