Gulfport Council Members React To Discrimination Accusations

Gulfport City Council members are speaking out to accusations of discrimination. Monday, the director of the Mississippi Region Eight Housing Authority, Roy Necaise accused Gulfport city leaders of covert discrimination by keeping affordable housing out of Gulfport. However, council members say the issue has nothing to do with race.

"It's not about black, white, rich or poor to me. It's about fairness," says Nalley.

Ward 7 councilwoman Barbara Nalley and Ward 3 councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines say comments from Roy Necaise suggesting discrimination within Gulfport City Council couldn't be further from the truth.

The women say the real issue stems from the rejection of Sandstone Villas. It's one of the new proposed affordable housing developments from Region Eight Housing Authority. The project got a thumbs down from the planning commission and council and now they say Necaise is just mad.

"The discussion is where should tax credits, quote unquote affordable housing, be? I have those areas already identified," says Holmes-Hines.

Hines is talking about areas like L.C. Jones Homes. She says in July of last year residents received a letter notifying them of upgrades to the community, days later, they were told that they would have to move out citing lack of insurance and funding from HUD. The councilwomen say instead of starting new projects, why not first repair those that already exist.

"It was safe housing during Katrina, but because that property is to be sold you now take them in this PHA tax credit development, in an apartment complex, on top of each other, near a major highway and near a major shopping complex that is to go across the street and along a creek bank. Is that safe? No, it's not safe to me. But he is not addressing that issue," says Nalley.

What Necaise is addressing, is discrimination. That's something Mayor Brent Warr says won't be tolerated.

"It could appear that there is discrimination. There certainly is no desire to do so and we're not going to allow anyone to discriminate within the city administration, that's for sure," says Warr.

However, Barbara Nalley says discrimination is not what she's about.

"I have no other ulterior motive than to make sure that we are fair to all and to make sure that we put people in good safe quality housing," Nalley said.