Fewer than 4,000 remain in lower three coastal counties

(JACKSON, Mississippi) – The total number of occupied travel trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has dropped below 4,000 in Mississippi’s three Coastal counties hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. As of June 27, the trailer inventory stood at 3,690, notably below the 9,137 units identified in January 2008.

“The decreasing number of FEMA trailers is a good indicator of our overall recovery effort,” Governor Haley Barbour said. “As we move into this year’s hurricane season, I’m encouraged by these numbers, which show a significant number of Mississippians have moved out of their FEMA trailers and into safer, more livable housing alternatives.”

Totaling more than 30,000 in the days after the August 2005 storm, the shrinking FEMA trailer count in Harrison, Hancock and Jackson counties is a result of steady progress on the housing front as Katrina’s victims leave temporary FEMA-provided units for more suitable housing options.

Specifically, the latest count showed occupied FEMA trailers in Harrison County totaled 1,943 with Hancock and Jackson counties having
889 and 858 occupied trailers respectively.

Out of more than $2.7 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds earmarked for restoring housing stock in the Coastal counties, to date the State of Mississippi, through the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), has disbursed more than $1.6 billion in CDBG-sourced Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP) grants to more than 21,000 homeowners throughout the three coastal counties.

“When the Homeowners Assistance Program finishes servicing the remaining qualified applications this fall, we will have disbursed almost $2 billion in direct housing assistance to homeowners in our Coastal counties,” Governor Barbour said. “And that doesn’t count our remaining CDBG housing programs that are set to provide an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 affordable housing units along the Coast in the coming years.”

In addition to the HAP program, the state has three other federally funded CDBG initiatives designed to replace or construct affordable and low income rental housing stock throughout the Katrina impact area.
Budgeted for more than $700 million, the Small Rental Assistance Program, Long Term Workforce Housing Program and Public Housing Programs have each begun issuing construction project awards in recent weeks, with more than 270 public housing units already completed.

Additionally, the state’s successful Alternative Housing Program, administered through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), has provided more than 2,720 affordable, livable housing units to Coastal residents.

“Our housing efforts are now moving from direct assistance with cash or a pre-constructed Cottage to more complex and ambitious plans to construct literally tens of thousands of affordable rental homes,”
Governor Barbour said. “This is going to be a complex and challenging effort, but it is part of the largest housing assistance effort ever undertaken by a single state, and it will leave the Gulf Coast with well more affordable housing stock than existed before Katrina.”

Governor Haley Barbour Press Release