MAY 19, 2010 ISSUE

$41 Million Long Term Workforce Housing Project Breaks Ground in Gulfport

On May 11, the Mississippi Development Authority Disaster Recovery Division (MDA DRD) and Southern States Housing Group broke ground on phase one of a $41 million housing development aimed at providing long term workforce housing, a portion of which is for families of low and moderate income.

Piper Woods, the 72-lot subdivision off Orange Grove Road in Gulfport, will be two to three bedroom single-family energy efficient homes which will be built with materials designed to lower the cost of energy, as well as, be equipped with ENERGY STAR appliances. With these innovative construction measures, homeowners in Piper Woods should expect to see a 20 percent cut to their utility bills.

“The goal is to provide healthy and affordable homes to households on a typical workforce salary,” said Lee Youngblood, Communications Director for MDA DRD. “These are homes that are better than what was here before - more modern and efficient - and homes that compliment the surrounding area.”

Southern States Housing Group and MDA DRD officials break ground on Piper Woods, a new workforce housing development in Orange Grove.

Part of the state’s $5.4 billion federally appropriated Hurricane Katrina Recovery Fund, approximately 25 percent of this project is being funded by MDA DRD’s Long Term Workforce Housing Program. This program has allocated $350 million to almost 40 projects throughout the Coast, providing assistance to low and moderate income homebuyers and funding construction of affordable single family homes along the Coast’s areas hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina.

Pass Christian Workforce Housing Breaks Ground

On April 28, representatives of the Mississippi Development Authority Disaster Recovery Division (MDA DRD), the City of Pass Christian, U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, and U.S. Representative Gene Taylor’s office joined Mississippi Workforce Housing, LLC to commence construction on a new 44-unit workforce housing complex in Pass Christian.

The new development will provide 40 units for low and moderate income renters, with the other four being available at market rate. MDA DRD is providing almost $4 million for the project, sourced from the state’s $5.4 billion federally appropriated Hurricane Katrina Recovery Fund.

With almost 40 projects awarded to various sub grantees along the Coast, MDA DRD’s Long Term Workforce Housing program has $350 million allocated toward constructing units, providing homebuyer assistance, and funding construction of affordable single family homes throughout Harrison, Hancock, Jackson and Pearl River counties.

The sub grantees are companies, non-profits and organizations which have committed to investing in workforce housing initiatives that will support long term Katrina recovery.

Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott commences construction for the 44-unit Mississippi Workforce Housing, LLC project in Pass Christian.

Bay St. Louis Athletic Complex Holds Ribbon Cutting

Bay St. Louis community leaders dedicated the city’s new athletic complex. More than $1 million in Katrina recovery grant funding was used to complete the work.

Laurel Senior Citizens Center

Construction is almost complete on the Laurel Senior Citizens Center, part of a $40 million, Mississippi Development Authority Disaster Recovery Division (MDA DRD) program providing assistance to inland communities, which were in the path of Hurricane Katrina.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the city had planned to utilize an existing building in Daphne Park to host the Senior Citizens Center. However, that building was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Working with the MDA DRD’s “GO Zone” Program, the City of Laurel has been awarded more than $314,000 to build a new Senior Citizens Center at Daphne Park. The City is providing a $26,000 match.

Construction speeds along on the new Laurel Senior Citizens Center, a project funded through MDA DRD’s “GO Zone” program.

The modern facility is styled to blend in with the Park’s wooded setting and includes multi-purpose facilities to host various types of events and meetings.

MDA DRD’s Community Revitalization and “GO Zone” programs are funded through more than $5 billion in federal block grants secured by Governor Haley Barbour from Congress following the August 2005 storm.

Both programs are helping to restore, replace or strengthen damaged or destroyed public infrastructure, including water systems, ports and harbors, town halls, courthouses, and community centers, like this one in Laurel.

Water and Waste Water Improvement Projects Progressing

Governor Haley Barbour and the Mississippi Development Authority Disaster Recovery Division (MDA DRD) set aside more than $40 million from the state’s Katrina Recovery Fund to assist with Katrina recovery projects throughout the inland counties along the storm’s path of destruction.

Much of this funding is to repair and upgrade public infrastructure, including water and waste water systems.

Two of those projects in Newton County are well underway and nearing completion.

In Union, construction on the town’s new $2 million water treatment plant is progressing rapidly. MDA DRD officials joined city officials and representatives from the local planning and development district to break ground for the new facility last fall.

Construction is nearing completion on Union’s Water Treatment Plant.

The project, funded entirely through federal recovery funding administered by MDA DRD, replaces an aging treatment plan that was damaged beyond repair by Hurricane Katrina.

Just a few miles to the south along Highway 15, the town of Decatur is completing a new water treatment lagoon. Like the Union project, this initiative is entirely funded with more than $900,000 in MDA DRD recovery aid. The improved lagoon will provide better drainage and enhance the town’s waste water treatment capacity.

Part of Decatur’s new water treatment lagoon, a project entirely funded by MDA DRD.

Though more than 150 miles inland, Hurricane Katrina’s eye passed over East Central Mississippi just hours after its deadly impact along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Though well beyond the Coast, the storm’s wind speed was still above hurricane force along most of the storm’s path through Southern and Eastern Mississippi.

Construction Progresses on the George County Governmental Annex

More than $1.3 million in Katrina recovery grant funding is helping construct the George County Government Complex in Lucedale. The former Singing River Power building (owned by the county) was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

With the help of Katrina recovery funds, the county is constructing a new building to replace the former one and provide office space for government functions. The new building will be called the George County Governmental Annex.

The George County Government Complex under construction in Lucedale.

Port of Gulfport Update

Don Allee, Executive Director and CEO of the Mississippi State Port at Gulfport talked to members of the Jackson Rotary Club on May 17 about the Port’s visionary restoration plan, which includes making the facility into the nation’s first hurricane resistant port - one that is designed specifically to capitalize on new trade opportunities expected to be created by the pending Panama Canal expansion.

Allee stressed the importance of the Port’s role as a “state” Port, available to service all of Mississippi’s needs and more. “We’re your Port, we’re already the third largest container port on the Gulf, and we want to increase that footprint and be even more competitive,” said Allee. “Often we are Kentucky’s port, Tennessee’s port, too.” Allee has led the State Port for the past nine years. He has more than 25 years experience in public port management, including a previous stint at the Port of Beaumont, Texas.

“We’re just 360 miles from Houston, the biggest Port in the Gulf, an hour from New Orleans, Mobile is next door… so, it’s a very competitive environment out there, and we’re competing against ports all over the country,” Allee told the Rotarians. “But Hurricane Katrina has given us an opportunity to make lemonade from lemons, to not only build a port that’s more modern, environmentally friendly and efficient, but also to build a State Port for Mississippi that is poised to remain competitive for the next 100 years, designed specifically for the emerging maritime marketplace.”

Don Allee, Executive Director and CEO of the Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport, addresses members of the Jackson Rotary Club.

The Port’s post-Katrina master plan will utilize approximately $570 million sourced from the State’s $5.4 billion federal Katrina recovery grant appropriation secured by Governor Haley Barbour and Mississippi’s Congressional delegation in the months following the August 2005 storm.

Appropriated for storm recovery in three areas: replenishing housing stock, repairing damaged public infrastructure and economic development initiatives designed to retain or create jobs in the hurricane impacted counties, the Port of Gulfport restoration is the largest infrastructure repair project being executed as part of the state’s recovery efforts.

Hurricane Katrina caused major damaged to the Port, rendering most of its berths inoperable and scattering cargo containers throughout downtown Gulfport and nearby residential neighborhoods.

The new plan calls for the Port to be elevated above Katrina storm surge levels and for containers to be secured with straps. It also will enable the Port to accommodate concessions in which shipping operators lease space from the Port, building and operating their own specific cargo handling areas using private funds.

West Pier Fill Project

Click "Download Performance Statistics" to view all of Mississippi's Katrina CDBG programs and status.

According to the Council of State Community Agencies, historically Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) has been utilized by states in the following manner:

Public Improvements 55%

Economic Development 17%

Housing 15%

Administration/Planning 9%

Acquisition 3%

Public Services 1%

In accepting CDBG funds states must make certain certifications to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. States also have four major responsabilities for utilizing these funds:

- Formulate community development activities;

- Decide how to distribute funds among communities in non-entitlement areas;

- Select eligible activities, and

- Ensure recipients comply with applicable requirements.

This newsletter is produced by the Mississippi Development Authority Disaster Recovery Division.

Lee Youngblood, Disaster Recovery Division

Visit Mississippi Disaster Recovery Division home page