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Recovery Gone Wrong?
Hurricane Evacuation Route
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November 16, 2007

Two years after Katrina, casinos, hotels and condos are coming back strong in the hardest hit areas of Mississippi, but tens of thousands of people are still displaced—in limbo with no solution in sight.

The Rand Corporation recently released a report on post-Katrina Mississippi — with relatively gloomy conclusions:

Recovery will take at least another two to three years, and the final costs will exceed $4 billion. Three issues will be critical to short-term recovery: construction-sector capacity; availability of funds to finance recovery; and an adequate supply of housing, especially affordable housing, for those whom the storm displaced from their residences.

This isn't news to the Steps Coalition, which is fighting on behalf of families who are still in need of housing, and tracking what's happened to the money Congress sent to rebuild. The Steps Coalition argues that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's recovery plan has made it difficult for the states' poorest families to rebuild.

Barbour received over $3 billion dollars specifically for housing. Federal rules required that half that money be given to lower income families but Governor Barbour also got permission to disperse funds as he saw fit. The Steps Coalition and other critics argue that under the Governor's two-phase plan left lower income families off the priority list. FEMA itself reports there are 14,000 families still living in FEMA trailers across the state today.

As Steps Coalition Executive Director Melinda Harthcock notes, Katrina merely added to the problems of a state which ranks near the bottom in income, education and health. "We had an affordable housing crisis before the storm. Corporations were importing workers. Developers were filling in wetlands. And basically, our quality of life was tanking before the storm. But things were happening so slowly that few noticed the danger. Katrina dramatically accelerated everything."

>Find out more about the historic community of Turkey Creek.

Published on November 16, 2007

Related Media:
Melissa Harris-Lacewell, photo by Robin Holland Katrina Revisited
Professor Melissa Harris Lacewell and environmental activist Mike Tidwell discuss what we've learned and what we still haven't learned from the Katrina disaster.

Photo from IN KATRINA'S WAKE, by Chris Jordan In Katrina's Wake
In 2005, 10 weeks after Hurricane Katrina, photographic artist Chris Jordan documented the devastation in a series entitled, "IN KATRINA'S WAKE: PORTRAITS OF LOSS FROM AN UNNATURAL DISASTER," published by Princeton Architectural Press, NY.

References and Reading:
Steps Coalition
"The mission of the Steps Coalition is to promote an equitable recovery and healthy, just, and sustainable communities in South Mississippi. The Coalition shares these interconnected values: affordable housing, community preservation, economic and environmental justice, and human rights."

FEMA: Mississippi Hurricane Katrina
FEMA's Web site for areas affected by Katrina in Mississippi offers updates on recovery and news on federal assistance programs.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour
The Governor's official Web site hosts the Office of Recovery and Renewal and also provides detailed information on the Governor's housing plan.

"Post-Katrina Recovery of the Housing Market Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast"
Read the Rand Corporation report by Kevin F. McCarthy, Mark Hanson.

Also This Week:

THE JOURNAL profiles a group known as the Steps Coalition, which is fighting on behalf of families who are still in need of housing, and examines what's happened to the money Congress sent to rebuild.
>Find out more about the fight to save one historic community in Mississippi

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