Originally published 12.20.08
Written By Jesse Muhammad
(Blogger’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a story I reported on that will appear in an upcoming edition of The Final Call Newspaper. Click & Subscribe Online!!)
The state of Mississippiâ€™s plans to spend a half-billion federal dollars to expand a storm-torn port, was recently delivered a potential blow by angry low-income residents demanding the rebuilding of their homes lost in Hurricane Katrina instead.
â€œIt is unfortunate that money earmarked for the recovery victims of Hurricane Katrina is now being taken away for the purpose of business developmentâ€ said Derrick Johnson, State President of Mississippi NAACP.
Along with the Gulf Coast Fait Housing Center, the lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The plaintiffâ€™s are challenging that the agencyâ€™s approval of a plan submitted by the state to re-route $600 million of federal hurricane recovery funds designated for affordable housing to bankroll the expansion of the Port of Gulfport is not lawful.
â€œThis is in essence creating another disaster, only itâ€™s man-made. Itâ€™s unconscionable that HUD would approve a plan that neglects tax-paying citizenâ€, said James Crowell, a member of the NAACP National Board of Director and a Katrina survivor.
Katrina slammed Mississippiâ€™s coast three years ago, wiping some towns off of the map. To date nearly 6,000 families remain in temporary shelters, with over fifty percent of those residing in FEMA trailers. The shaky economy has caused housing rates and insurance costs to escalate in the state as well. That has forced many, like Sabrina Wallace, to move to other cities such as Houston.
â€œItâ€™s sad how when youâ€™re down, some one comes and kicks you in the head. Three years later they still have not done right by the peopleâ€, said Ms. Wallace to The Final Call. â€œThey rather bail out corporate crooks than give the poor people a lifeline. They are choosing a port over the poor? Thatâ€™s the American way I guess.â€