Advocacy group notes progress on ninth anniversary of Katrina

August 27, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Sid Scott, Mississippi Center for Justice, 769-230-2841, sscott@mscenterforjustice.org

JACKSON, Miss. — As Mississippi observes the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) reports that repairs, reconstruction, or other direct housing assistance has been performed by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) on over 5,100 low and moderate income homeowners as a result of MCJ's settlement, in collaboration with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), with federal and state officials in November 2010. Approximately 400 more households are expected to be repaired or reconstructed before the program is completed. The repairs cover at least 15 counties in south and southeast Mississippi. The total value of the program has grown from $132 million to $172 million, and MCJ expects that another $20-25 million will ultimately be used to complete the work. This outcome fully vindicates the forecasts by social justice advocates that there were more than 5,000 Mississippi households with unmet housing needs as we approached the fifth anniversary of Katrina. MCJ thanks the Neighborhood Home Program and the contractors working under the program for this progress.

MCJ's and LCCRUL's representation of the Steps Coalition continues with respect to oversight and accountability on construction and permanent job creation at the State Port at Gulfport. This oversight has led to greater accuracy about retained jobs at the port and a shift in overall direction from a Port of the Future to a right-sized port that is more likely to fulfill its ambitions. It also has exposed serious reporting and compliance problems that HUD now is requiring the Port and MDA to correct. MCJ and LCCRUL also continue to press the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to observe environmental justice requirements. One of our clients, Rose Johnson of the North Gulfport Community Land Trust, will be recognized by the national Sierra Club later this year as the first Robert Bullard environmental justice award recipient.

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