GCCAA loses funding for energy assistance - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

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GCCAA loses funding for energy assistance

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Gulf Coast Community Action agency loses funding for another program. And this time, the funding loss might impact you.

When news broke about GCCAA losing its energy assistance grant, former board member Dr. Christina Richardson told WLOX News Gulf Coast Community Action Agency was "totally imploding now." Richardson said that moments before current GCCAA board member Pam Fairley confirmed the agency will no longer oversee the LIHEAP/CSBG program. That’s energy assistance program hundreds of people use to get a helping hand with their power bills.  

"We were not able to support them with the funds available," Fairley said Tuesday morning. 

She explained that on November 30 the Mississippi Department of Human Services had taken $500,000 of unused money from GCCAA, "so we no longer have that funding to assist people."

According to Fairley, the state will find a new group to oversee the energy assistance grants, so clients aren’t impacted. She expects MDHS to share that information in an upcoming news release. 

WLOX News has left a message with a MDHS representative. Once we hear back from the state, we’ll update its plan going forward.

The GCCAA decision impacts clients and staff. Fairley said nine people work in four Gulf Coast Community Action Agency offices across the coast. They’ll lose their jobs on Thursday.

In the last few weeks, Gulf Coast Community Action Agency has lost a $9 million grant to run its Head Start program. It’s lost the $1.4 million energy assistance grants. It also lost a grant program funded through the South Mississippi Planning and Development District.  

"Once we finalize everything, clear up everything, it may or may not exist," Fairley said when asked about GCCAA’s immediate future. "I don’t know at this point."

Dr. Christina Richardson recently resigned from the GCCAA board. She was appointed to the GCCAA board by Hancock County supervisors. Earlier this month, she went to the board and explained her decision to step down was based on the mishandling of funds and a series of other issues she noticed at agency board meetings.  

"They have no money. This has been so horribly mismanaged," she told WLOX News.

Fairley disputes that claim.  

"We’ve done an excellent job for over 45 years, and we have never had this problem before," she said.

She said her agency’s biggest priority right now is to work with CDI Head Start on the transition from her agency to that group, so students start on time next week, "and the students won’t miss a beat."

Fairley asked WLOX News to contact attorney Dean Holleman to get answers to any additional questions. Holleman will meet with WLOX News later today.

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