WASHINGTON - Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), who chairs the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee, issued the following statement today after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the State of Mississippi and the Mississippi Center for Justice announced a $132 million housing program to assist homeowners and renters in the Mississippi Gulf region who were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Under the program, the state will direct $92 million in Community Development Block Grant money to low- and moderate-income residents in South Mississippi who are still trying to repair or reconstruct homes damaged during the storm. An additional $40 million will go to unmet Katrina-related housing needs of low-income residents in nine Mississippi counties. The funding will allow applicants to receive up to $75,000 for repairs and reconstruction.
Congresswoman Waters had raised concerns and held a hearing after the state attempted to divert federal resources originally designated for housing assistance to expand the Port of Gulfport instead.
A lawsuit filed by groups who opposed this misappropriation of HUD money will now be dropped.
The Congresswoman’s statement follows:
“I am pleased with today’s announcement of the settlement between the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the State of Mississippi, and local housing advocates to address the unmet housing needs of low-income families struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.
Like many housing advocates I was shocked that the State of Mississippi not only failed to address the housing needs of low-income homeowners and renters after Hurricane Katrina, but also proposed to use unspent housing dollars on the expansion of the Port of Gulfport. I held a hearing on this issue, wrote to HUD and Governor Barbour in opposition, and implored our appropriators to withhold funding for the Port until the State met the housing needs of low-income homeowners and renters.
Five years after Katrina, this settlement will finally provide for those unmet housing needs. Only now, after knowing that the housing assistance will be funded and provided, can I support expansion of the Port moving forward. I commend HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Assistant Secretary Mercedes Marquez, and Governor Haley Barbour for working to address this injustice. I especially commend Reilly Morse of the Mississippi Center for Justice for his tireless advocacy on this issue.”