After Hurricane Katrina, the United States department of Housing and Urban Development spent $20 billion creating new housing and infrastructure all across the Gulf Coast. About $40 million of that was spent in Biloxi.
During a webinar on Tuesday, HUD Secretary Julian Castro said recovery efforts aren't over yet, and HUD will keep working with victims until the recovery job is done. Biloxi's public housing director and residents say they are quite pleased with how far public housing has come over the past 10 years.
"Prior to the storm Katrina, we had just over 900 units of housing, and 100 units of section 8. So, we were serving about 1,000 families," said Bobby Hensley who is the executive director of the Biloxi Housing Authority.
After Katrina hit, Hensley says the majority of families were displaced and there were only about 200 units available. HUD immediately granted them $7,000,000 dollars to begin building back, and later Governor Barbour issued another $41,000,000 to the Biloxi HDA from HUD money given to the state.
"Am I happy? Of course I'm happy. No one said they had to give us anything," said Hensley.
Hensley says between insurance and HUD funding, coupled with them doing their own contracting they have been able to build almost double the amount of housing they had before the storm.
"Any developer fees that would have been paid to an outside development company came to us, and we were able to take that money and plow it back into the rebuilding of these properties," said Hensley.
Residents who were living in Biloxi's public housing before and during the storm say they are pleased with how well the housing has been rebuilt.
"I think it has improved a lot. I mean nothing goes on but family, people raising their family, quiet and peaceful you know. I think it's doing real well," said Olevia Davis.
Hensley says the demand for public housing greatly increased after Katrina. They went from serving about 1,000 families to now housing about 1,800 with nearly 3,000 names on the waiting list.