July 10, 2014 was ground breaking day for the Magnolia Crossing Development renovation project in Yazoo City, MS. As an intern, it was my first day personally seeing the results of the Rental Assistance Demonstration, or “RAD,” program. Before the ceremony, the letters RAD simply meant a program in HUD that I viewed on paper. After the ceremony, I had the privilege of speaking with residents of Magnolia Crossing, the chairperson of the Yazoo City Housing Authority, and the Mayor of Yazoo City. Now the RAD program, created to preserve the nation’s stock of deeply affordable rental housing, means so much more to me.
Residents Flora Knight, Dorothy Travis, and Addie Edwards of Magnolia Crossing responded emotionally to the ceremony. Travis and Knight laughed about how they would no longer have to coordinate their laundry chores; no more worries about flooding their units if they washed clothes at the same time. They wiped tears while explaining how long they had waited for this day to come. Travis explained how the groundbreaking was bittersweet because she moved to Magnolia Crossing so that her son Michael, who was disabled, could be accommodated. He loved the Magnolia Crossing Development. He passed before the renovation project could begin, but his mother said he would have been happy to see the improvements. Knight, Travis, and Edwards were also excited because they are finally getting air conditioning units that will help combat the sweltering summers of Mississippi.
The renovation project for Magnolia Crossing not only means a lot for the residents of that development, but it will mean a lot for Yazoo City as well. According to Terry Fraiser, chairperson of the Yazoo City Housing Authority, the renovation will improve the standard of living for 86 families. Mayor Diane Delaware described Yazoo City as her “North Star.” She believes the renovation will portray Yazoo City as a welcoming city to insiders and outsiders alike.
Seeing and hearing the enthusiasm and passion of Yazoo City’s housing authority chairperson and mayor, and seeing the emotional response of the Magnolia Crossing residents, made me realize what a beautiful program RAD is. It was heartwarming and moving to see people being assisted in improving their quality of life.
For more details on Magnolia Crossing renovations, visit HUD’s website
Karen Knox is a HUD Pathways Intern in the Jackson, Mississippi field office.