Anita Lee writes about housing on the coast: A surplus of units and unmet needs

This is not the first story Anita has authored on this topic and I have a feeling it won’t be the last. Steve and I have had several conversations about the coast’s housing conundrum of having unoccupied rental units with many more in the pipeline while those on the bottom rung still do without. So while the combatants bicker and parse words I’ll add the view at Slabbed is we need no additional “tax credit” apartments that low income folks can’t afford. Without further commentary on my part here are the links to today’s story excerpted below and the related editorial.

Too many homes and apartments are on the market in South Mississippi, but residents least able to afford them are still waiting for permanent housing more than four years after Hurricane Katrina.

“We clearly, at this point, have more units for sale and for rent than we need,” Gov. Haley Barbour’s Coast Housing Director, Gerald Blessey, told the Sun Herald. “We have enough in the pipeline between now and 2011 to meet the remaining needs. But many of those units are vacant because they are not at rates or prices people can afford.”

Advocates for the elderly, disabled and low-wage workers say the state has neglected thousands of low-income residents in its management of almost $5.5 billion in federal assistance funds for Katrina recovery.

The state has misrepresented how the money is being spent, they say………..

Housing advocates want the state to redirect millions in grant funds to wind-damaged homeowners who have been unable to repair or rebuild. The nonprofit Steps Coalition estimates thousands of homeowners need help. The coalition favors income-testing that would limit grants to low-income residents.

“These homeowners should not have to wait for a volunteer group, they should not have to wait for charitable giving, to repair their homes,” Morse said.

Steps, based in Biloxi, produced a report on Katrina’s fourth anniversary that used a state-ordered study and MDA statistics to show how programs aimed at low-income residents have delivered too little, too late. Too many people, they say, are waiting to return home.

“We’re seeing a lot of this on a day to day basis,” said Charmel Gaulden, executive director of Gulf Coast Fair Housing. “It’s separate from the data and the numbers. We’re dealing with the people. I ride through neighborhoods where I see people living in homes that have blue tarps — still — and it’s four years after the storm, as crazy as that might sound.

“So many other people have been given the opportunities to rebuild. There is something very unique about a home, and that’s why we’re so passionate about this.”