Gerald Blessey Named MS Coast Housing Director

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Governor Haley Barbour on Thursday announced his appointment of former Biloxi Mayor Gerald Blessey as Mississippi Coast Housing Director, a position designed to facilitate progress in post-Katrina housing recovery.

"Tremendous resources have been devoted to restoring and rebuilding housing on the Gulf Coast. While a lot of progress has been made, it hasn't been fast enough. As we approach the third anniversary of Katrina and a new critical phase of recovery, it is essential that we continue to build the team that is already working hard to get more housing into service as quickly as possible," Gov. Barbour said at a news conference.

Barbour said Blessey didn't ask for the job, but his "unique perspective" makes him the perfect person to get things done.

Blessey, 66, will work under a professional services contract through the Mississippi Development Authority. His assignment will be to work with local nonprofit agencies, governments, advocates, and other organizations to speed up development and construction of affordable workforce housing and rental units on the Coast.

"There is widespread agreement that workforce housing is absolutely essential to Coast recovery and many people and agencies are working hard at it," Blessey said. "My challenge from the Governor is to do everything humanly possible to facilitate these efforts and help finish the job."

Blessey represented Harrison County in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1972-81 and served two terms as mayor of Biloxi, 1981-89. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Governor Barbour appointed him to the Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal, where he chaired the Land Use Committee.