July 6, 2008

Coast Groups Await $15M: Recovery Money OK’D By HUD

By Anita Lee, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

Jul. 6--GULFPORT -- Revamped long-term recovery groups and the East Biloxi Coordination Center are anticipating $15 million in federal workforce-housing money to rebuild housing Katrina demolished.

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation will administer the Community Development Block Grant money based on need, said Janet Smith, the foundation's vice president of operations.

GCCF, the committees and the East Biloxi group formed the Coming Home Collaborative to apply for the grant money, which HUD approved in June.

"I'm so proud of these groups coming together like they have," Smith said. "It's historical, I think, for Coast communities to come together so eagerly to get the job done."

Smith hopes the money arrives by Sept. 1.

"The long-term recovery committees are running out of operating money and administrative money," Smith said. "It's imperative that they keep going. The need is still there."

The Gulf Coast Housing Resource Center, a program of International Relief and Development, also is a grant partner. Harrison County and Jackson County long-term recovery groups are now a program of the Resource Center because they ran out of long-term recovery money. Their mission is to provide housing resources and build new housing to help replace what was lost.

"The four Coming Home Collaborative partners have streamlined their processes with the assistance of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation to expand our services to ensure that the citizens of the Mississippi Coast are receiving the most efficient and effective assistance possible," said Lori R. West, director of the Resource Center.

The center will screen applicants, budget recovery money and build housing in partnership with coalition members.

Mary Wimberly, executive director of Harrison County's Long-term Recovery Coalition, said applications are being limited to housing rebuilds.

"We're hopeful that in six to eight weeks we may have some additional funding that would enable us to do some limited repair work," said Wimberly, who added money is no longer available for furniture. "We're strictly focusing on structural needs now."


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