Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Headline that Wasn't

Mississippi's plan to divert $600 million in hurricane housing relief funds to a port expansion project won federal approval Friday, despite opposition from those who say the housing needs of thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina have not been met.
. . .The port expansion plan--which will use the last of the housing recovery money allocated by Congress--has been a subject of contention on the Mississippi coast, where more than 30,000 residents still live in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers and mobile homes.
Here's a little background information on the money:
The money in question is part of $5.5 billion in HUD Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) that Congress authorized for Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005. Administered by the Mississippi Development Authority, about $3.4 billion was allocated to replace and repair some of the nearly 170,000 owner-occupied homes destroyed or damaged by the storm. Another $600 million was set aside for programs to replace public housing, help small landlords fix their units and foster construction of new low- and moderate-income housing.
Mississippi is not a state of great wealth. Poverty rates in Mississippi have increased since 2000, and the poorest people are Black:
When compared to other States across the United States, the State of Mississippi can be considered to have a very high poverty rate amongst the population, with a poverty rate of 19.9 percent with a family income under the 1999 poverty level. The Black or African American race/ethnicity population category, holds the highest rate of poverty with 34.9 percent of the population in 2000 living in poverty. Individuals aged Under 5 years are experiencing most percent people in poverty in Mississippi, reporting 28.7 percent of this age cohort living in poverty.
So the poorest people, the ones who lost the most in Hurricane Katrina and the ones with the fewest resources to get themselves back under a roof are the ones whose pockets are being picked. Yet again.

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