You need to edit your httpd.conf and make sure that the Userdir section is enabled and the user directory is set to public_html. Once thats done, create a directory called public_html in your home directory and give it permissions of 755. To access your webpages you would then do something like http://localhost/~userid/page.html
. Apache still has to be started by root.
Redhat 9 reached its end of life last year, so Redhat no longer provides updates and support for it. You ought to think of using Fedora Core, RHEL or CentOS because they are still being activley developed and recieving security upgrades.