Former President Bill Clinton Touts Tax Credit During Visit To Gulfport

Former President Bill Clinton believes the often overlooked Earned Income Tax Credit is an essential reserve to pump critically needed cash into the recovery efforts of Forrest Heights residents.

"I just met a lady out here who's a renter, so she can't get a lot of the government assistance," Clinton tells a room full of residents.

"But she's a single mom with three kids and she makes under $35,000 a year, so she's eligible for the earned income tax credit. And because she never filed for it before, she can file back three years. So she may get $12,000. She can start a new life."

His Clinton Foundation has teamed with a number of hurricane recovery organizations to educate the 28 percent of eligible tax payers nationwide who fail to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit each year.

"There is no catch," says John Bryant, Founder of Operation Hope. "Just go do it. The only catch is you've got to ask for it. You've got to fill out this form."

Many residents took advantage of the former President's call of economic empowerment through this initiative. But even more took to heart his promise to return here after his last visit. A promise kept that they say reassures them that they are not forgotten.

"Yes, it means a whole lot to the Gulf Coast," says Gulfport resident Bobb Burton.

"He actually came back to see what progress we have made and what are the needs of the community," says Chandra Moore of Gulfport. "So we have made some progress, but the community, as you can see, there's still very much that needs to be done out here."

Community activist Derrick Evans waited for hours to tell the president that residents fear being forgotten.

"There have been years of municipal abuse and blight affecting the Forrest Heights, Turkey Creek, and North Gulfport communities," says Evans.

But he and others feel if Clinton and other prominent leaders can keep the world's focus here, rebuilding bigger and better than ever can be more than a politician's promise.