Coming Home collaborative helps rebuild homes, restore lives

Red pins on maps marked the 187 homes the program rehabbed.
Red pins on maps marked the 187 homes the program rehabbed.

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It rebuilt homes and helped restore lives after Hurricane Katrina. The Gulf Coast Community Foundation is celebrating the success of a housing rehab program called Coming Home.

A $15 million federal grant helped repair and rebuild nearly 200 homes in the three coastal counties.

"We are celebrating the fact that together we were able to assist 187 families return to their homes. I can think of no greater thing," said Ron Barnes, with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, as he opened a news conference celebrating the achievement.

Several years after Katrina, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation realized there were still plenty of storm victims who needed assistance rebuilding.

"And that's when the foundation in conjunction with the support of its housing partners, approached MDA. What can we do to help these under served families who essentially had fallen through the cracks?" said Paul Guichet, with the foundation.

Red pins on maps marked the 187 homes the program rehabbed.

"As you see these pins, let's not forget that they represent real people," said Barnes.

People like Sylvia Allen and her 83-year-old mother, Betty. The Coming Home collaborative gave them hope and restored their Katrina ravaged home on West Virginia Avenue.

"In our old house, it was, I mean, I had to wipe walls down every day because we had mold," said Sylvia Allen, her voice beginning to crack as tears welled up in her eyes. "The ceilings fell in on us," she painfully recalled.

"Oh, this was a big old blessing from the sky!" said her elderly mother, Betty Allen. "And I'm just so proud that everybody had a part in it and helped us get a house, cause we really needed one."

It's the kind of heart warming story these folks who helped organize and administer the Coming Home program are all too happy to hear.

The Allen's home was a late Christmas present last year. They received the newly built residence on December 28th.

"We were so excited, when Miss Lisa called and said, 'I got your key.' I said, 'Oh Lord Mother, they've got a key. We're finally gonna get a key!" said Sylvia Allen.

They're looking forward to the one year anniversary of coming home.

Housing partners who helped build the projects included Hope CDA, Climb CDC and Hancock Housing Resource Center.

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