Unmet housing needs surge in Mississippi

In November we reported on a new program to help low-income Mississippi residents rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  The program was the result of a settlement reached between a number of local housing advocates and their public-interest lawyers, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the State of Mississippi.  Here is an update on the program from the Mississippi Center for Justice, one of the housing advocacy and legal groups that helped win the settlement.

Applications for Katrina-recovery assistance top 14,000

With just a few days left until the January 31 application deadline, more than 14,000 Mississippians have filed for Katrina-recovery assistance from the Neighborhood Home Program. This program, a result of the settlement agreement announced in November by Mississippi Center for Justice, Mississippi Development Authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides $132 million for unmet needs stemming from damage, including wind damage, caused by Hurricane Katrina.
The final number of eligible households will be determined after comparing the applicants to eligibility lists identified in the settlement. “This high initial response rate is proof of a successful outreach effort by the case management agencies and by MDA itself,” said Reilly Morse, senior attorney. “It also demonstrates resoundingly our position that there were thousands more households with unmet needs over and above the 4,400 identified by the State."
The Neighborhood Home program will provide up to $75,000—and possibly more depending upon certain hardship considerations—worth  of repairs, rehabilitation, or reconstruction to lower-income homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Other programs will provide assistance to qualified households seeking to permanently occupy cottages and to qualified renters whose apartments were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The Center is working closely with MDA and their contractors to determine the application review process and protocols for determining award amounts.

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