During the 1980s the first indications of what would become Sacred Heart Southern Missions Housing Ministry appeared. The roofs of ten houses in Walls were repaired. As one resident put it before the repairs were done, “When it rains at night, we all get up. There’s no place big enough to stretch out and not get wet.”
In 1987 the housing ministry in Walls continued to demand attention as the enforcement of sanitation laws caused dozens of evictions of the very poor from houses that were old sharecropper shacks and block houses slowly disintegrating onto the edges of the cotton fields where they stood.
In response to this very real need for housing, SHSM organized a coalition of Mississippi Action for Community Education, Mississippi Home Corporation, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and United Way of the Mid-South to raise funds which ultimately provided housing for sixteen families who had been living in the old shacks.
Housing in Walls took a big step forward, however, with the creation of a Master Plan for Dehon Village. The dedication of Dehon Village and the finishing of its first eight houses were highlights of 1995. The final thirty houses in Dehon Village saw completion in 1996.
Sacred Heart Southern Missions with the help of several congregations of religious sisters created a Revolving Loan Fund which provides low-income people with money at very low interest rates to purchase appropriate housing. The Revolving Loan Fund has made obtaining a mortgage and buying a house possible for many who otherwise would not have been able to afford it.
In 1993 Housing also became an area of concern in Tunica as the arrival of the casinos had caused housing costs and rents to rise as much as 200%. With the cooperation and assistance of Sacred Heart Southern Missions, the locally organized Tunica County Housing Project completed fifteen single-family dwellings during the year and celebrated the “moving in day” of these new homeowners who had participated in the building of the houses. Ultimately, 61 homes for low-income citizens were built in Tunica.
In the mid-90s Sacred Heart Southern Missions also assisted a local group in Hernando to develop affordable low-income housing in Hernando’s West End.