More than $132 million for Housing Improvements For those Most Effected
(Jackson, MS) Mississippi State Conference NAACP (MS-NAACP) is pleased announce today an agreement with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the State of Mississippi to dedicate $132.8 million in Katrina community development block grant (CDBG) funds to address unmet housing needs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The funds will be used to:
$98.2 million to address the identified unmet housing needs of 4,400 households,
Undertake an outreach effort to assess unidentified needs in nine south Mississippi counties, and
Reserve at least an additional $40 million to address the need identified through this outreach process.
The agreement comes nearly two years after MS-NAACP, Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center, and numerous individual clients filed a lawsuit challenging HUD’s approval of requests from the State of Mississippi to waive several requirements that the CDBG money be used to assist low- and moderate-income persons repair and rebuild their homes after Hurricane Katrina. The State instead wanted to use the money to expand the State Port at Gulfport.
“Our focus always has been to get Mississippi to finish rebuilding and restoring much needed housing first,” said James Crowell, Biloxi, MS resident and President of the Biloxi Branch NAACP, “With this plan, Mississippi has committed to repair low-income households, regardless, without splitting hairs over of whether the damage was caused by wind or flood. We can now make progress toward repairing and rebuilding housing in low-income African American neighborhoods as well, many of which were neglected for the past five years.”
“Though the storm did not intentionally discriminate, the damage did reveal the impact of decades-long discrimination against poor, African American people who were already living in substandard housing,” said Derrick Johnson, State President, Mississippi NAACP, “I am glad that we had the resources to right this wrong. It is a matter of priorities and this agreement provides a solution. The decision by HUD to settle this case is a step in the right direction. Ensuring the full recovery for all victims of Hurricane Katrina should be a priority. Our Governor and the previous administration were concerned with diverting funds for their corporate friends and wealthy individuals as opposed to working Mississippi families seeking to recover after the devastation of the storm,” added Johnson.
In 2008, Mississippi state officials, with the approval of HUD, attempted to use Katrina community development block grant money to expand the Port in Gulfport. Under the plan, nearly $600 million would have been diverted from the housing needs of Coast residents to the commercial expansion of the port. MS-NAACP with legal support from the Mississippi Center for Justice, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the law firm of Mintz Levin Cohen Ferris Glovsky and Popeo, PC, challenged HUD’s approval of requests from the state of Mississippi to waive several requirements that the CDBG money be used to assist low and moderate-income persons repair and rebuild their homes after Katrina.