State NAACP Releases Report On Recovery - - The News for South Mississippi

State NAACP Releases Report On Recovery

This trailer on Kuhn Street in Biloxi has been Sharon Hanshaw's home since February.

Before Katrina, Hanshaw owned a beauty salon for 21 years, and although she rented a home on Bayview Avenue, she says she never missed a payment.

But she says, after Katrina, her credentials mean nothing when it comes to finding and renting a permanent place to live.

"For an apartment for example, 'You don't have enough credit because you just started working.' But I owned a business for 21 years. That doesn't count? 'Well, that don't exist anymore, ma'am.' So you have to wait until you stay on a job for 6 or 12 months. Because I'm a renter and pay rent, does that make me less of a person?" said Hanshaw.

The state NAACP believes it shouldn't make a difference, especially when it comes to recovery.

Based on a report the group released Wednesday, the state has fallen short of providing programs for those who have the least.

"There is nothing there to support the development of affordable housing. Home renters are completely excluded from any of the recovery efforts, senior citizens on fixed incomes have been completely ignored," said state NAACP president Derrick Johnson.

Johnson says recovery should be equal for all victims of Katrina, and not simply with housing.

The report also looks at bank lending policies in the last year.

"People who find themselves suddenly in need of having tap their home equity, which is a whole lot of Katrina survivors around here, almost half of them have to go to mortgage companies who taken together have a very discriminatory history of giving out much more onerous lending terms to minority communities than to the majority," said Mississippi Center for Justice spokesperson Reilly Morse.

The 81-page report also contains a set of recommendations to the state, as legislators continue to discuss the recovery of South Mississippi.

Sharon Hanshaw hopes this report could help her move into a home a little bit faster.  

The specifics of this report will be discussed at a special town hall meeting which will be held Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Good Deeds Community Center in Gulfport.

It will be called "Envisioning a Better Mississippi," and it will be sponsored by the state NAACP and Oxfam America.

"Our goal is to create a venue for coastal community residents to come and speak out and talk about some of the concerns. At that town hall meeting we will have the head of the NAACP Bruce Gordon, the head of OXFAM America Ray Offenheiser, and activist/actor Danny Glover," said Johnson.

By Karla Redditte

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