Many homes in the Mississippi Delta are in need of repair. This is how one woman’s dream of rehab came true.

Rory Doyle is a freelance photographer living in Cleveland, Miss. This photo essay is set in Leflore County (population 28,000), where there is a daily newspaper, Greenwood Commonwealth.

In early August, Gloria Jean Lewis, 61, walked into her completely remodeled home in Greenwood, Miss., with a sigh of relief.

She has lived in the house since 1998. But years of decay have resulted in numerous problems: collapsed roof, damaged plumbing, sagging floors, no central air conditioning and heating, Insufficient wiring. Because she meets U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development standards as a long-term and low-income resident, Lewis is eligible for remodeling funding from the Investor Partnership Program. HOME by Mississippi Home Corporation, a state-run initiative that keeps finances safe and sound. House. The remodeling was done by Delta construction design studio (Delta DB), a social impact building design firm based in Greenwood. “There’s a lot of work I have to get done,” Lewis said. “Without the grant, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be able to fix things.”

Housing assistance is much-needed in the economically declining Mississippi River Delta, a historically black-majority rural area with a shrinking population. Follow Delta Regional Agency, all 18 counties that make up the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area are considered distressed, with high unemployment and low per capita income.

Emily Roush-Elliott, co-founder of Delta DB, sees the primary housing problem in Delta as one of systemic injustice, with undervalued homes and properties in Black neighborhoods. “If Miss Lewis’s house is valued at $40,000 today, but she’s invested more than $80,000 in it over the lifetime of ownership, then that’s clearly not a Dream,” Roush-Elliott said. America,” Roush-Elliott said. (These numbers are hypothetical.) “It raises a very scary question: Is housing a good investment for lower-income Delta residents?” She noted, when the appraised price falls below the construction cost, only high-income households are able to finance and build a house.

Lewis feels lucky to have found a way out of a system that works against her. “There are a lot of dilapidated houses here, and some people will lose their homes,” she said. “It’s terrible for some people that they can’t stay, especially if they live alone and don’t have family members to support them. I know a lot of people who just end up renting because at least the landlord has to fix the things that need fixing.”

LEFT: Williams paints the window frame. RIGHTS: Lewis organizes the visually impaired and other properties.

LEFT: Image in Lewis’ remodeled living room. RIGHTS: Whitehead and BJ Types of outside activities.

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Margaret Sullivan: What happens to society – and our democracy – when community and regional journalism dries up Many homes in the Mississippi Delta are in need of repair. This is how one woman’s dream of rehab came true.


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