Coalition Raising Awareness About Grant Money

More than 40 non-profit organizations have made it their mission to make sure no one eligible for the second round of Mississippi Homeowners grants misses out on them. The Steps Coalition is going to churches and neighborhoods to spread the word that government rebuilding help is still available.

Members are telling people who didn't initially qualify for the homeowners grant, there's still time to apply. The goal is to see houses going up to replace the empty slabs. Members of the Steps Coalition say there would be more rebuilding if more people knew about the second phase of the Homeowners Grant Program.

Dena Wittmann works for Back Bay Mission which is part of the Steps Coalition.

"We think that there are a lot of people out there who just don't know for one that homeowner's assistance grants are available," said Wittmann.

"We've had several meetings with the Mississippi Development Authority. They've let us know they are counting on us to do outreach to the public."

Phase Two grants are open to people who owned their home when Katrina hit and had flood damage from the storm surge. There are also income limits. Applicants can't earn more than 120 percent of the median income, which amounts to $57,950 per year for a family of four.  Unlike Phase One grants, homeowners without property insurance can qualify.

"The grant then is up to a maximum of $100,000. What's different also about Phase Two is you can use that funds if you are eligible to rebuild if that's what you wish or relocate if that's what you wish, " Wittmann said.

Information packets outline what people need to know the grant program. The Steps Coalition wants to get the paperwork into the hands of homeowners. The next challenge will be helping people who can't get to the grant service centers on their own.

"For the elderly. For the disabled, "said Wittmann. "For the very low income who don't have transportation, these are barriers to getting these people.. who would fit these eligibility requirements, as far as income."

The Steps Coalition is holding two meetings on Thursday. One is at Macedonia Baptist Church in Ocean Springs at 1 p.m. The other is at Christ Episcopal Church in Bay St. Louis at 5:30 p.m. There are three service centers on the coast where people can apply for the grants.

Jackson County
Singing River Mall
Monday- Friday
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Harrison County
Prime Outlets
Monday - Friday
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Hancock County
Longfellow Drive
8 a.m. - 6 p.m.