The Mississippi Cottage Alternative Housing Pilot Program: A look back (and forward).

Almost 5 full years after Hurricane Katrina, permanent affordable housing via the Mississippi Cottage pilot program is once again topical because Gulfport is changing the rules midstream for permanent placement of Mississippi Cottages per Anita Lee’s reporting last week.  I was not a fan of the cottages originally but my thinking has evolved, especially after The City of Gulfport lead the way with a comprehensive ordinance that was emulated across the coast.

We link Anita’s writing a good bit so the video embed should give our readers a bit more color on the person behind the keyboard as well as depth on this issue.

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more about “Part 4: Alternative Housing Pilot Pro…“, posted with vodpod


And they offered “free” money to get Coasties in houses and could not find enough takers

At Slabbed we well remember the rollout of REACH Mississippi to great fanfare last year. Joe Spraggins was all over the airways touting the program but before those commercials ran details of the program were leaked to the press and it is there we begin for some background:

In 2007, the Gulf Coast Business Council created the Renaissance Corporation, a non-profit group charged with creating affordable housing options for south Mississippi hurricane victims. The Renaissance Corporation is about a month away from unveiling what it considers an ambitious affordable housing program.

Specific details about how two thousand south Mississippians could become new homeowners aren’t being released to the public just yet. However, the non-profit group recently did a test case with an Ocean Springs woman. And, Denise Baker’s moving into a new home because of the financial assistance she received from her boss and Reach Mississippi.

Last week, Baker got the keys to a house in Gulf Park Estates. She contacted a few friends, and got them to help her move in.

“It’s been exciting,” the new homeowner said. “Stressful. But exciting.”

Home ownership became possible for the single mother when her bosses at the Andover Company urged Baker to be a test case for a Renaissance Corporation housing initiative.

“It was a win-win situation for both of us, for my employer and for myself,” she thought.

Through a program soon to be called Reach Mississippi, Baker’s employer put money for her down payment. And the Renaissance Corporation used private contributions to make a three for one match. Just like that, Baker had a house in close proximity to her office. And she had a mortgage she could afford.

What the story does not mention is that Mr Spraggins was Ms Baker’s boss at Andover (the Andover website is down as I write this post but the Google Cache from last month is here and the wayback machine snapshot from March 2008 is here), which specialized in residential SIP Construction. The company had made a sizable investment in lots and spec houses in Diamondhead and their inventory of high-priced homes was not moving as the real estate market on the western end of the coast began to die in the fall of 2007. Undaunted by the unique circumstances that made the down payment assistance helpful in Ms Baker’s case the program was finalized and those commercial featuring Spraggins were made. The local media continued promoting the program because there is no better story than free money that gets people into houses after a major Hurricane. Curious about the program, I visited the REACH Mississippi website to look at the program criteria and ended up wondering if economically the numbers made sense. Anita Lee answered that question in Sunday’s Sun Herald Continue reading “And they offered “free” money to get Coasties in houses and could not find enough takers”

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.” Continue reading “Anita Lee writes about housing on the coast: A surplus of units and unmet needs”

A Quick Thought on Recent Cottage Developments

This post is quick and dirty and I’ll leave it to those so interested to google up the stories at the Sun Herald, the Seacoast Echo and WLOX.

First the residents didn’t want them but now cognitive dissonance over the initial decision to ban them has set in. The perceptions are pretty simple to understand, people that are sinking $50K into just their flood mitigated foundations aren’t too keen on having a $26,000 MEMA cottage as their next door neighbor. Dr Mac didn’t help things speaking out at the BSL City Council meeting; too many people remember how much money he got from the Farm.

Meantime and with the deadline to vacate the cottages looming, a few former cottage residents have replaced their cottages with true modular housing. Whatever fears the neighbors had about the cottages have been replaced with the stark terror of having an elevated glorified trailer for a neighbor. Throw in a healthy dose of freeloaders and out of town residents who used their cottages as weekend getaways and the toxic gumbo pot is complete. (I know I promised no links but this loser seems to think he is entitled to a free house without the bother of a mortgage.) Continue reading “A Quick Thought on Recent Cottage Developments”

Insurance and Affordable Housing: Habitat Homes Going Unused on the Coast

What happens when sky high insurance costs meets charity at the corner of Captured Regulator Blvd and Price Gouging Way? Easy, affordable houses go unused. AP reporter Sheila Byrd has the story for the Sun Herald along with quotes from our own Captured Regulator Mike Chaney who admits insurance rates have gone up and stayed up, despite his earlier proclamations on that subject. (No word yet if he has bothered to reply to the United Poloicyholders Inquiry – somehow I doubt it.) Belated H/T to Editilla at the Ladder.

In four states along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, Habitat for Humanity came with a mission to build hundreds of homes during a spring blitz so people pushed into poverty after Katrina would have the chance to own a home.

Many of the dozens of completed houses in Texas, Louisiana and Alabama are occupied or will soon be dedicated. But not in Mississippi, where only six of the 30 homes are filled. Continue reading “Insurance and Affordable Housing: Habitat Homes Going Unused on the Coast”

Meanwhile Aboard General O’Dell’s Goodship Lollypop…..

The short timer Hurricane Recovery Chief trumpets the return of housing stock to the Gulf Coast. Ummm. General are you forgetting something? Sheila Byrd at the AP has the story for the Clarion Ledger:

The new federal hurricane recovery chief says the amount of housing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is near pre-Katrina levels, but some officials and advocates living in the region dispute the claim.

Maj. Gen. Douglas O’Dell based his comment on current housing units and those expected from several projects he said had been initiated by Gov. Haley Barbour’s administration.

Barbour has said his planned projects are aimed at helping renters and low-income households, but many have yet to break ground. Continue reading “Meanwhile Aboard General O’Dell’s Goodship Lollypop…..”

Around the GO Zone in 60 Seconds: FEMA Blasted, Bennie Nails It, Gene is Pi$$ed, Cash Clogs, Sister Mary, Brother Charlie & DC Politics, Orange Grove Retail Explosion plus New EOCs & Firehouse

I’ve been out lately so I’m trying to catch up.  It took me 50 seconds to write that long title so I better be quick. First is the verbal a$$ whipping laid on FEMA by Rep Barney Frank of Massachusetts with an assist from our own Bennie Thompson as told by the Sun Herald:

At a congressional hearing of two House subcommittees Wednesday, officials from FEMA and HUD failed to satisfy congressional critics about their efforts to find housing for 22,000 Katrina victims still living in trailers nearly three years after the storm.

House Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank, D-Mass., who attended the hearing, was incensed HUD and FEMA have not resolved a dispute over funding affordable housing. And House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said lawmakers should tie strings to federal funds to prevent the diversion of housing funds to other uses, such as Mississippi’s decision to spend $600 million in Housing and Urban Development funding on port improvements in Gulfport.

“We should not send money for one purpose and allow federal government officials to allow a local official to change it,” Thompson said. “While I agree that expanding the port will benefit the Gulf’s economy, I have serious doubts as to whether the new port workers are going to have anywhere to live.” Continue reading “Around the GO Zone in 60 Seconds: FEMA Blasted, Bennie Nails It, Gene is Pi$$ed, Cash Clogs, Sister Mary, Brother Charlie & DC Politics, Orange Grove Retail Explosion plus New EOCs & Firehouse”