Recovery money for low-income homeowners brings crowd

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Krystal Allan – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Two days into the new Neighborhood Home Program, people are filling up local outreach centers.

By 11:00 am, more than 40 people had come by the International Relief and Development (IRD) Center in Gulfport. The program targets low-income homeowners still needing help with home repair following Hurricane Katrina. Among those who stopped in were senior citizens and the disabled; two groups the program is really trying to reach.

John Damico of Gulfport falls in one of those categories. The 65-year-old needs repairs done on a roof left badly damaged after Hurricane Katrina.

"I'm on a limited income. [I'm] 65, and I need it fixed because it's leaking pretty bad now," said Damico.

The Easleys, both seniors, have multiple home repair issues. Earl Easley, who's disabled, said there's only one way to describe how they felt as they walked through IRD's doors in need of assistance.

"In a world a hurt, I'm on disability and everything. It's no way on the income I have that I can take it and buy the materials to re-do [everything]," said Easley.

Damico and the Easleys are exactly who the newly established Neighborhood Program is striving to reach. Low-income homeowners still in need of home repairs following Hurricane Katrina can receive up to $75,000 in assistance through the program.

Lori West, the Gulf Region Director of IRD, said the program is open to new clients looking for help. It's also available to people who have received help from FEMA or other sources but not enough to finish their homes. West said all people need to do is walk in and find out if they qualify.

"As their case manager, we will be in touch with them and walk along side with them throughout the entire process," said West.

That's comforting news as many said this program is their last source of help to fully recover from Hurricane Katrina.

"[It will] be a great weight lifted off of us," said Easley.

The deadline to apply is January 31, 2011. The program targets low-income homeowners living in South Mississippi counties who owned a home during Hurricane Katrina.

To help avoid fraud, contractors will be paid directly through the state. The Mississippi Development Authority oversees the Neighborhood Home Program, established under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to state officials, as many as 5,000 Mississippians may qualify for some financial assistance, but you must meet certain guidelines.

  • You must have owned and occupied your home at the time of Katrina.
  • You must currently own your home.
  • You must have unrepaired Katrina related damage to a single family home.
  • No new construction.
  • Home must be in an eligible county: Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, Pearl River, Lamar, George, Stone, Forrest, Jones.

Applications are due by January 31, 2011 and may be filed at one of the following Neighborhood Home Program Outreach Centers:

Forrest County

Forrest County Multipurpose Center
962 Sullivan Rd.
Hattiesburg, MS 39401-2714
601- 544-5115

Recover, Rebuild, Restore Southeast Mississippi (R3SM)
1715 Hardy St, Suite 40
Hattiesburg, MS 39401

George County

LESM Lucedale, George County
52 Virginia St.
Lucedale, MS 39452

Hancock County

Hancock Resource Center
454 Highway 90, Suite B
Waveland, MS 39576

Harrison County

IRD Housing Resource Center of Harrison County
1223 30th Ave.
Gulfport, MS 39501

Hope Community Development Agency
425 Division Street
Biloxi, MS 39530

Jackson County

IRD Housing Resource Center of Jackson County
4836 Main Street
Moss Point, MS 39563

Jones County

The Magnolia Center
1457 Ellisville Blvd.
Laurel, MS 39440-5417

Lamar County

Lamar County Multipurpose Center
43 Central Industrial Row
Purvis, MS 39475

Pearl River County

LESM Picayune, Pearl River County
1421 Goodyear Blvd.
Picayune, MS 39466

Stone County

H.A. Brown UMC
200 N. Azalea Drive (Hwy 49)
Wiggins, MS 39577

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