Response to new housing grant program "exceeded expectations" - - The News for South Mississippi

Response to new housing grant program "exceeded expectations"


By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Almost 17,000 Mississippi families in nine counties applied for a federal grant to repair their Katrina-damaged homes.  About 1,000 people came in to register on Monday, the last day for applications.

On Tuesday, the Mississippi Development Authority started processing some of the applications for the new Neighborhood Home Program

"I think the response to this program exceeded expectations," said Reilly Morse with the Mississippi Center for Justice. "We're delighted with this stage of it. We couldn't be happier with the initial response. It vindicates our views that this was a real substantial need."

Morse is a senior staff attorney with the Mississippi Center for Justice. The organization fought hard for the grant money to help repair low-income homes damaged by wind or water.

Almar Pickrom applied for the program six weeks ago. Katrina damaged the roof of his Biloxi home and rainwater ruined the carpeting, walls, and cabinets.

"We got a lot of wind damage and water damage in this house. I've been fixing it up out of my pocket and I made it livable," said Pickrom.

Pickrom said he's unemployed and needs some assistance to finish fixing up his home.

"I think it's a great thing, because there are a lot of people who need help," said Pickrom.

"MDA is going to begin sending out letters to people, saying it's time to come in for your full interview. We'll get into the details of what you need, verify your income, verify what's the exact kind of assistance you're eligible for," said Morse.

And within the next few days, the MDA will start the process of hiring construction managers to oversee the rebuilding projects. Those companies will hire sub-contractors to do the work. Construction could start in a few months.

"With 17,000 applicants, that's a lot of work.  And there's a lot of eagerness on contractors' part to participate and we want as many to do so as possible so the work gets done sooner," said Morse.

Morse pointed out that some applicants may not qualify for the grant. Those who do can receive up to $75,000 and possibly more for home repairs. The state and HUD set aside $132 million for the program.

If you have any questions about your application, just contact your case manager or the Housing Resource Center where you applied.

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