The development authority chose to tap the Homeowner Assistance Grant Program because it had excess funding, Donna Sanford, director of MDA's disaster recovery division, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
The proposal is open to public comment until Sept. 24, and organizations including Oxfam America and the Mississippi NAACP have said they will oppose it. The proposal needs approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The $600 million would be used to restore public infrastructure and publicly owned facilities at the State Port at Gulfport that were destroyed during the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane. It would also improve the operating capacity at the port, Barbour said in a news release.
Barbour said the restoration is "crucial to the economy of our state and essential to the revitalization of the Gulf Coast region."
The port generates about 3,000 maritime jobs and is the third busiest container port in the Gulf of Mexico, said Don Allee, executive director of the Mississippi State Port Authority.
Thousands of families still live in FEMA trailers and affordable rental property is scarce. Roberta Avila of the Interfaith Disaster Task Force said many coast residents haven't recovered because they don't qualify for the governor's housing program.
Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Originally published here on September 13, 2007.
Return to A.M. in the Morning! Home