Miss. Katrina housing grants enter second phase

Published 11:25 pm Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Mississippi Development Authority is taking the public’s comment on the second phase of a homeowner assistance grant program that will give homeowners who didn’t qualify for the first phase another chance.

Homeowners can apply for assistance to repair, rebuild or relocate.

The original program covered about 15,000 families and the second phase opens new opportunities for assisting more people, Gov. Haley Barbour said in a statement Friday.

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“We’ve been working with the federal government for months to develop this second phase in order to help as many as 10,000 more families,” Barbour said.

Phase Two of the Homeowner Assistance Grants Program will provide up to $50,000 for low- to moderate-income homeowners whose primary residence had flood damage from Hurricane Katrina, .

Those homeowners may qualify regardless of whether they were uninsured or underinsured, and regardless of whether their homes were inside or outside the federal flood plain.

Phase Two has a special needs feature in which eligible applicants — age 65 or older, or who are disabled, or who have household income at or below 60 percent of the average median income — can get up to an additional $25,000, or a total of $75,000.

An additional grant of up to $30,000 is available to help pay to elevate their homes, if necessary. In most cases, a qualifying homeowner must have a household income at or below 120 percent of the average median income, or about $63,000 a year for a family of four.

As with the original program, anyone who receives a grant under Phase Two and is rebuilding must elevate their home out of the flood plain, build consistent with the International Building Code, and carry flood insurance.

Phase Two grant recipients also must agree to a covenant for those stipulations for any future owner of the land. The original homeowner also most remain on the site for three years or relocate elsewhere in George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson or Pearl River counties.

The starting point for each individual grant calculation will be the cost to repair or rebuild the structure based on a damage assessment approved by the MDA.

Barbour said families who have already applied for the original phase of the program, or are already registered for follow-on programs, do not have to reregister to be considered for Phase Two; however, homeowners who are uncertain are encouraged to go ahead and reregister.

Copies of the plan are available from the Mississippi Development Authority call center at 866-369-6302, or at http://www.mississippi.org/

Written comments can be mailed to Mississippi Development Authority, P.O. Box 849, Jackson, MS 39205 or faxed to 601-359-9280.

Submit online comments to hoacommentsmississippi.org.

Comments must be received by Dec. 8.