Affordable Housing Summit To Focus On Speedier Recovery

Two years, two months. Back Bay Mission in Biloxi says that's much too long for people who lost their homes to Katrina to live in limbo. For a second straight year, the faith-based group is hosting an affordable housing summit, but organizers say the housing challenges are different this time around.

The previous summit focused on locating available housing, tax credits, and housing trust funds. This year officials say there is a greater sense of urgency and a rush to get keep hope alive in storm victims and the groups trying to help.

According to the federal government there are more than 12,000 FEMA trailers that Harrison, Jackson and Hancock county families call home. Back Bay mission says at first it was about trying to get people out of an inconvenient living situation. Two years after Katrina, finding affordable housing is a crisis.

Back Bay Mission's Dena Wittmann said, "We realize it's an urgent and critical need and therefore the title of our summit is making housing happen now."

Moving people from FEMA trailers to housing they can afford is the focus of next week's summit in Biloxi. There, government, private businesses and non-profit agencies will look for solutions.

"If we do not collaborate across all three sectors and the most vulnerable will be left out, they'll be priced out," said Wittmann. "They'll be stereotyped out because of attitudes towards affordable housing and what that actually means."

Wittmann says the stress storm victims are feeling two years later comes from disappointment and frustration that they're not farther along in their recovery.

"I've heard it called Malignant Malaise what that would mean is a deep formed depression, not because of the storm but because of the recovery process."

Wittmann says the people working to help the displaced also need support. That's why part of the summit will focus on finding inspiration to keep going.

Wittmann said, "We're battle fatigued and we do need some level of inspiration to keep us going because it's a daily struggle and it's a daily you wake up in the morning and pray for hope."

If you'd like to take part in the Second Annual Affordable Housing Summit, you must reserve a space. The event is Tuesday, October 27th at the IP Casino in Biloxi.