GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Hancock Whitney is stepping up once again to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many Gulf Coast residents facing the threat of illegal evictions, Hancock Whitney is donating $95,000 to four local organizations focused on relief assistance for low- and moderate-income households.
Here’s a look at how those organizations are helping in our community.
Mississippi Center for Legal Services
Mississippi Center for Legal Services is a private non-profit law firm providing free civil legal services to eligible persons throughout central and southern Mississippi. The bank’s $30,000 donation to the organization will provide legal assistance to an estimated 120 individuals facing evictions due to COVID-19.
“The current pandemic is unprecedented in terms of loss of life and livelihood for individuals and families, many of whom face an uncertain future. In many instances, not only are they facing loss of income, but also the potential loss of their housing,” said Sam H. Buchanan, Jr., executive director. “The contribution of Hancock Whitney will assist Mississippi Center for Legal Services in addressing the needs of some south Mississippians facing loss of their homes through eviction actions.”
Catholic Charities of South Mississippi
Catholic Charities of South Mississippi’s mission is to empower the community by providing help and creating hope. Catholic Charities works to provide free civil legal services to eligible persons throughout central and southern Mississippi. $25,000 to the organizations will directly help with housing costs for an estimated 50 families whose income was affected by COVID-19, either directly or indirectly.
“Catholic Charities of South Mississippi is honored to partner with Hancock Whitney to serve our neighbors during this critical time,” said Jennifer Williams, LSW Diocesan Director Catholic Charities of South Mississippi. “We have remained open and working throughout this crisis and have found that so many of those calling have never needed help before. They have always been the givers to those having a difficult time. Catholic Charities has served southern Mississippi for more than 40 years and will continue to do so, thanks to partnerships like the one with Hancock Whitney.”
United Way of South Mississippi
United Way of South Mississippi (UWSM) brings together thousands of volunteers and partners across Hancock, Harrison, Stone, and Pearl River Counties to improve the quality of life in South Mississippi. By partnering with donors, employers, nonprofits, faith groups, and government agencies, United Way brings a coordinated approach to solving community problems. Hancock Whitney’s $20,000 contribution to the organization will go directly to the communities UWSM serves through agencies that have sound intake and reporting procedures to fill gaps and provide services in rental and temporary housing assistance.
“United Way of South Mississippi is proud to partner with Hancock Whitney to fund frontline agencies who are meeting the needs of individuals and families,” said United Way of South Mississippi CEO Kathy Springer.
Mercy Housing & Human Development
Mercy Housing & Human Development provides financial literacy and capability programs to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including home buyer educations and rental counseling. Hancock Whitney contributed $20,000 to the organization for rental assistance to an estimated 40 individuals and/or families in the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Hattiesburg area.
“Mercy Housing’s mission is rooted in financial health and sustainability and it is our duty to monitor the financial pulse and needs of our community,” said Mercy Housing & Human Development Executive Director Julie Egressy. “Forty percent of our workforce is always one paycheck away from being homeless. In times of crisis such as COVID, we step up to provide relief and financial counseling to help those most vulnerable recover. Without a sustainable workforce, our economic stability is in jeopardy! And, we think it is so important during this national pandemic to the recovery of our community that we reached out to our funders for use of grant funding normally set aside for our administrative expenses to be reallocated for emergency assistance.”
In April Hancock Whitney announced a $2.5 million investment to help people in some of the Gulf South’s most vulnerable neighborhoods during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a total of $720,000 allocated to housing organizations to fund housing assistance and legal services that provide critical eviction representation across Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The investment also has helped to stock local food pantries, provide cloth face masks to protect residents and first responders, and fund community health centers.
Hancock Whitney Mississippi President Emory Mayfield said the bank’s commitment to housing relief and legal services comes at a critical time as many local communities across Hancock Whitney’s banking footprint have begun, or will soon begin, to lift rental and eviction moratoriums.
“Over the past few months, we have been faced with unprecedented impacts to our local, state, and national economies,” said Mayfield. “At Hancock Whitney, our institution is anchored in values, reinforced with resilience, and focused on opportunity. It is important to us that we partner with local organizations to help preserve the incomes of our neighbors so they have every opportunity to recover.”