Miss. Gulf coast’s population almost back

Published 4:54 pm Friday, August 22, 2008

Mississippi’s battered coast has regained most of its population and is getting a boost from tourism but still lacks affordable housing for its poorest residents. That’s according to two new studies.

A report by the Gulf Coast Business Council, a nonprofit group of businesses formed in 2006, says about 97 percent of the population has returned to Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, the three areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The report says the counties lost nearly 40,000 of their 376,000 residents after Katrina ravaged the area.

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A study by the Biloxi-based Mississippi Center for Justice says the lack of affordable housing remains a thorny challenge. According to that study about 6,170 of damaged rental units in Mississippi’s coastal counties are slated to be repaired, leaving about 4,500 unrepaired.