Disaster Relief Groups Bracing For Major Funding Loss

Dozens of disaster relief groups spent Friday brain storming on how to prevent what they see as a major setback for Hurricane recovery. The summit called Mississippi Crisis In Katrina Recovery focused on how millions of dollars used to fund case manager jobs is about to run out.

Every family living in a FEMA trailer or a Katrina cottage has a story. It's a case manager's job to know that story, and what that family's individual needs are to get back into permanent housing.

"The more time they spend with the clients the more they can gather about their whole entire situation," said Jay Huffstatler of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. "They can plug in different areas from social services to building needs to mental health needs. Case management is a crucial point and it's a very hard job."

Case managers and others involved in Katrina recovery gathered together in Biloxi on Friday. They're worried about what will happen after $66 million designated for case management runs out on March 31st.

Interfaith Disaster Task Force's Roberta Avila said, "Without that funding, the most vulnerable citizens of our community are not going to be able to recover. "

Now people are tossing out ideas on how to come up with new funds.

Huffstatler said, "We're coming together everyone just to talk about the need. Everyone realizes that the funding is going a way so to get in one room to strategise and talk about different options for funding. Who to go to?"

Officials say there are about 150 case workers working in Mississippi. When the funding runs cut 50 will lose their jobs.

"These folks can find other jobs," said Avila. "The case managers have told me it's not about my job, it's about the families that I'm trying to serve."

The Interfaith Disaster Task Force estimates it will cost $3 million to have the case managers continue working in long term recovery through 2009.