A new disaster recovery plan was announced Monday by Governor Haley Barbour and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan for Mississippians still struggling from the after effects of Hurricane Katrina. The $132 million in federal funding will be directed towards housing repair and recovery in southern Mississippi. After five years, and millions of federal grant money later many of the victims of Hurricane Katrina are still waiting for government assistance.
This newly unveiled disaster recovery plan has been dubbed the ‘Neighborhood Home Program.’ As many as 4,500 Mississippi residents may be eligible for financial assistance under the new program. This includes families who are living in temporary housing and hundreds of others who failed to receive assistance because their homes were damaged due to wind.
The devastation inflicted by Hurricane Katrina caused all kinds of housing related problems that required government assistance but many families were either overlooked or didn’t apply because they didn’t meet the previous requirements. Previous federal grants were directed toward residents who possessed home insurance and lived within a certain designated flooding area. Many people were passed over for assistance who lived inland but nonetheless suffered significant damages to their homes because of hurricane winds. This new plan is a departure from assistance requirements that left a lot of low-income families still struggling to recover from the disaster.
The aim of the disaster recovery plan is to direct assistance towards those individuals and families that haven’t received adequate funding over the last five years. This plan will target those low-income families, the elderly and disabled.
Applications for housing grants are already being accepted at Outreach Centers in counties across Mississippi. Residents will be awarded up to $75,000 in government funding. The first series of grants will be allocated to funding security deposit and direct rental assistance. The final deadline for applications is January 31, 2011. Some of the key requirements are as follows:
- You must presently own your home.
- You must have owned and resided in your home at the time Hurricane Katrina hit.
- You must reside in one of the eligible counties – Hancock, Harrison, Forrest, George, Jones, Lamar, Pearl River, Jackson, Stone.
- Your home must have unrepaired damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.
- There must be no new construction to your home.
This insurgence of disaster relief money will put to rest the criticisms of housing advocates who have long argued that the government hasn’t spent enough on the restoration of homes affected by the hurricane. There are serious housing problems remaining in Mississippi that will finally see some sort of resolution thanks to the new disaster recovery plan.