Housing Leaders Accuse City Council Of Discrimination

The director of the Mississippi Region Eight Housing Authority Roy Necaise is accusing Gulfport city leaders of covert discrimination.  He says they are trying to keep affordable housing out of Gulfport.

"I think it is an absolute disgrace to anyone who can stand up in public and say, 'I don't want those people next door to me.' Or, 'I don't want those developments here, they belong in Ward 2 and 3.' If I was a councilman for Ward 2 or Ward 3, I would be offended that they don't want those people in my area, particularly Ward 7," says Necaise.

Barbara Nalley is the councilwoman for Ward 7. She has been very vocal on her concerns about proposed affordable housing developments.

Necaise and Region Eight's Jessie Billups say Nalley's worries are unfounded. They say the affordable housing plans call for upscale communities.

"Today, what you may consider a family that is in that affordable housing range pre-Katrina may now fit into that category, because of the cost of living and because the rental rates have increased so dramatically," says Billups.

"This affordable housing would help nurses, young fireman, young policemen, teachers, anyone who would make less than median income which is $46,000," says Necaise.

The need for affordable housing is real, but these men say if the fight to keep development out continues in Gulfport, they will take their fight to a higher court.

"We will file a complaint with Fair Housing and the Center for Justice. We will file a complaint with HUD that the city is receiving CBG funds through fraud. We'll also file a lawsuit against the city for discrimination. Somebody's got to call them on it and Region Eight is going to call them on it," says Necaise.

WLOX spoke with Barbara Nalley who says that she is not making the affordable housing issue a black or white issue. Nalley says she objects to saturation and that whether or not the project goes forward, everyone has the right to be heard. Nalley says she is willing to meet with Roy Necaise in a group setting.