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Greenville, Mississippi: Reserves at Gray Park Adds Affordable, Energy-Efficient Housing on Underutilized City Land

Photograph of the front of a two-story building with residents in the foreground and buildings in the background.
Aerial photograph of The Reserves at Gray Park and surrounding single-family neighborhood.
A row of two-story townhomes with one person standing on the front porch of one of the units.
Three kids on a walking path with grass and two-story buildings on either side.
A person walking through an opening in a wall connecting two buildings with lawn in the foreground.
An angled view of a row of two-story townhomes with green space and trees in the foreground.


Home > Case Studies > Greenville, Mississippi: Reserves at Gray Park Adds Affordable, Energy-Efficient Housing on Underutilized City Land


Greenville, Mississippi: Reserves at Gray Park Adds Affordable, Energy-Efficient Housing on Underutilized City Land


Over the past three decades, Greenville, Mississippi, has struggled with significant population loss, an aging housing stock, and persistently high levels of poverty. The number of people living in this Mississippi Delta city has fallen by approximately one-third since 1990, the poverty rate in 2021 was 32.4 percent compared with 19.4 percent for the state as a whole, and the average home is 56 years old. Because the loss of so many city residents led to a housing surplus, few units have been constructed in Greenville since 1990, and the city’s remaining housing stock tends to be larger single-family homes that are costly to maintain and not energy efficient. The Reserves at Gray Park, opened in 2018, addresses these concerns by adding affordable infill rental housing on previously unused city parkland. Developed by the Greater Greenville Housing and Revitalization Association (GGHRA), The Reserves at Gray Park is the largest redevelopment of this type in Greenville in the past 20 years. Beyond its affordable housing benefits, the project’s energy sustainability and green design features significantly reduce residents’ utility costs and promote resident and community interaction on a site integrated into the surrounding natural environment. The developers believe that The Reserves at Gray Park offers lessons for other low-income rural communities in the United States that face similar issues.

The Reserves at Gray Park

The Reserves at Gray Park consists of 17 two-story townhouse buildings containing two and three units clustered on an 8-acre site. Of the 42 total rental units, 6 have one bedroom, 27 have two bedrooms, and 9 have three bedrooms. Unit sizes range from 750 square feet for the one-bedroom units to 1,200 square feet for the three-bedroom units. Nearly all of the units — 90 percent — are affordable to households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), and the remaining units are affordable to households with incomes of up to 80 percent of AMI.

The site’s common spaces encourage resident interaction and active lifestyles, and unit-specific features promote safety and family gatherings. Each unit has a small semiprivate patio where residents can socialize. Doorway landings are narrow and positioned in different directions, according to Daniel Boggs, chief executive officer for GGHRA, to deter crime, because residents can see what is happening on their neighbors’ doorsteps. The living room is intentionally designed to be the largest interior space to foster family gatherings. Common areas include a sizeable L-shaped interior courtyard, graded flat to allow children to easily play. A walking path around the perimeter of the site is open to residents and community members. Residents can grow their own fruits and vegetables in a garden on the north side of the site and sell them at a local GGHRA-run farmers’ market.

The city of Greenville, seeing an opportunity to build affordable housing on a large parcel of land in a moderate-income neighborhood, donated the land to GGHRA. According to Boggs, one challenge to realizing this project was persuading partners that developing affordable housing at this scale was necessary despite the city’s housing surplus because of the age of the existing housing stock and the dire need to improve the health and well-being of Greenville’s low-income residents. As a sign of the demand for high-quality, affordable housing in Greenville, more than 400 applicants sought units in the building when it opened, and the project continues to maintain a waiting list.

Designing With Nature, Realizing Energy Savings for Residents

The Reserves at Gray Park features both active and passive design elements that promote energy efficiency and preserve the natural environment. Units are constructed with high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, instant hot water heaters, and ENERGY STAR® appliances. The exterior walls are constructed with 2x6 studs instead of the conventional 2x4 studs to increase insulation levels by 53 percent in all buildings. The architects installed concrete floors to increase convection, allowing the units to retain heat in cold weather and release it in the summer.

In addition to these active features, The Reserves at Gray Park realizes energy benefits from an array of intentional design features that use the natural environment to help heat and cool the buildings. The buildings are constructed with large overhangs that are sloped to angle the sun’s rays to help heat units in the winter and cool them in the warmer months. Every bedroom, living room, and hallway has at least two windows to improve cross-ventilation, and most of the windows are southern facing to facilitate the easy flow of breezes in the summer. Deciduous trees maximize shade for the units during the summer and sunlight in the colder months when the leaves fall. The porches are painted a light sky blue to help deter pests such as wasps and spiders from building nests on them. The surrounding natural environment also benefits from these design elements. By building on only 5 of the site’s 8 acres, the developers preserved a wetland and attracted native wildlife. The project is denser than neighboring properties, but the buildings are designed to look like large single-family houses, which helps them blend in with surrounding homes in the neighborhood.

These energy-efficiency components save residents between $450 and $700 annually on utility costs. According to Boggs, this amount represents significant savings for the development’s lower-income residents; approximately 70 percent of all GGHRA households earn less than $20,000 per year.


The $6.2 million project was realized through a combination of eight funding sources, with HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships program representing the largest share of funds. The project required a substantial subsidy because the postconstruction appraisal of the property was significantly less than the cost to construct it. According to Boggs, this result is typical when developing affordable housing in rural communities, and financing packages for these projects often rely on many partner agencies.

Table 1: Financing for Reserves at Gray Park

HOME Investment Partnerships program $4,307,718
GGHRA (capital investment) 203,565
Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, through Planters Bank 224,000
Regions Bank 1,250,000
Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation (Healthy Housing Initiative and predevelopment and capacity-building funds) 99,000
Wells Fargo Foundation 14,000
Washington County, Mississippi 50,000
City of Greenville land donation 40,000
Total $6,188,283

High-Quality, Sustainable Affordable Housing

The successful development of The Reserves at Gray Park, a multifamily affordable housing project at a higher density level than that of the surrounding neighborhoods, provides lessons for similar communities nationwide. The significant demand for the units reflects the need for healthier and safer affordable housing for low-income families. According to Boggs, many residents arrived at The Reserves at Gray Park from unsafe and unhealthy homes. A rise in the number of industries arriving in Greenville and the surrounding area demonstrates the need for high-quality housing to meet the demands of new workers.



The contents of this article are the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. Government.