Pascagoula Helps FEMA Park Residents Find Housing - - The News for South Mississippi

Pascagoula Helps FEMA Park Residents Find Housing

The City of Pascagoula has more FEMA trailer park residents than any other city on the coast. And now the city is working to get those residents into permanent housing.

The city hired the Dependable Affordable Sustainable Housing Group this year to provide financial resources and counseling to storm victims. The goal is to give people a place they can call home again.

Mildred Odom, 87, is preparing for another moving day. Katrina destroyed her home, and she relocated to this Ingalls Avenue Trailer Park in Pascagoula. Now Odom says FEMA is closing the park at the end of the month.

"I hoping to find a place to live instead of a trailer, but I have been all over Pascagoula, and I have not found one yet," Odom said.

That frustration is also felt by Lavon Free, who lives at the park. Free says finding an apartment on the coast is not hard, but paying the expensive rent is.

"I am on a fixed income," Free said.

City Manager Kay Kell says 671 families are still housed in FEMA trailers, and there are five FEMA sites open in Pascagoula.

"We have a list from FEMA in which they are closing March, April and May of this year," Kell said. "You have to work through the issues, but we don't have a lot of available housing."

Kell says the city is using federal grant money to hire the Dependable Affordable Sustainable Housing Group, or DASH. The organization will assist storm victims with their housing needs.

DASH's Executive Director Toshja Brown says the group contacts park residents, and provides them with recovery plans, and permanent housing options.

"Sit with them, and see what there obstacles are. Why they are still remaining in FEMA trailers? We are also accepting walk-ins, and we are just here to be of service," Brown said.

So far, nearly 400 Pascagoula residents have signed up to get help from DASH, and the organization is hoping to move those people out of FEMA trailers as soon as possible.

"We are in the business of neighborhood revitalization, and we encourage home ownership.

Encouragement and help are just what these FEMA trailer park residents say they need post-Katrina.

DASH is inviting all FEMA park residents to a free home buyer's orientation on Monday, February 18th, at 2220 Market Street In Pascagoula. For more information, call 228-934-2525.

By Patrice Clark

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