$1.6 million dollar project causing tension in Gulfport

$1.6 million dollar project causing tension in Gulfport

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Dozens gathered in Gulfport City Hall Wednesday night for a public hearing regarding a $1.6 million dollar project.

The city of Gulfport is attempting to help the neighborhood known as “The Quarters.” The city is proposing to reallocate prior years' Community Development Block Grant funding and 2020′s CDBG to a new project titled “Urban Renewal Streetscape Improvements.”

The $1.6 million project will pave streets, repair drainage in the area, as well as address sidewalks, lighting and landscaping within the city’s right-of-way, improving low-to-moderate income areas and encouraging development.

But not everyone is onboard with the plan. Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines stressed that she believes the funding should be shared amongst the low-income areas.

“My momma said if all of us can’t eat, then nobody should eat," said Holmes-Hines. “And I am going to oppose taking all allocated funding.”

Holmes-Hines wants the CDBG money to be spread among the wards like in years prior. Since 2013, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has split funding fairly evenly between Wards 1 and 3 in Gulfport. Holmes-Hine’s ward has received $1,045,290.

Councilman Kenneth Casey Sr.'s ward has received $1,259,899 dollars. While the split is pretty even, projects have always been divided.

The fact that all the money will be used in Ward 1 for improvements is what has some feeling “looked over.” Quarter residents view it differently.

“No one is trying to take anything away from another community," said Quarter resident Amelia Cooper-Simon. “We are one city, we are one coast and we have to work on projects one at a time as funds become available.”

One local business owner says the project will be huge in revitalizing the community.

“I think it will bridge the gap from the Job Corp to downtown," said Jevon Vontoure, the owner of Elaine’s Place. “I think it will make a great yellow brick road.”

Those in Soria City are still wondering when their community will receive help.

“We are a community where the money has always been moved to somewhere else," said Soria City resident Eric Cooper. “I guess if you’re getting the money, that makes you happy but what about my community that is suffering still? Infrastructure that needs to be done? So no, I am not happy.”

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