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Governor Barbour Outlines Katrina Recovery Spending on Low Income Housing Programs
From: Office of the Governor    Filed 9/19/07

Housing grants, tax credits, mortgage bonds, public housing funds, long term workforce plan all part of comprehensive housing recovery strategy

(JACKSON, Mississippi) – With the Mississippi Development Authority’s recent request for proposals for the long term workforce housing program, Governor Haley Barbour’s comprehensive recovery strategy continues to assist housing needs on the Coast, particularly for low income Mississippians.

“Katrina didn’t discriminate.  The storm leveled rich neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods, so our challenge—and top priority—has been to rebuild Coastal housing for all those affected,” Governor Barbour said.  “I’m proud of the policies we’ve set in place that help low-to-moderate income Mississippians move back into their houses and apartments, return to their communities and rebuild their lives.”

Governor Barbour’s comprehensive housing recovery strategy addresses low-to-moderate income homeowners and renters.  By enhancing housing opportunities, the workforce and economic engines of the Gulf Coast are able to find affordable housing.

The Homeowners Assistance Grant Program

This unprecedented relief measure provides grants directly to homeowners to rebuild or repair damaged houses.  As of September 18, more than $1 billion of the program’s phase one grants had been distributed to 13,886 applicants, with another $99 million distributed to 1,409 applicants from phase two.  Forty percent of phase one recipients are low-to-moderate income homeowners, with over half the household incomes under $40,000.  In phase two, which was specifically targeted to assist low-to-moderate income applicants, 80% of the recipients qualify as low income with half the household incomes at less than $19,000.

Mortgage Revenue Bond

Governor Barbour allocated $120 million in bond authority to the Mississippi Home Corporation to issue Mortgage Revenue Bonds throughout the southern part of Mississippi, including the coastal counties. These bonds create below-market interest rates and provide assistance with closing costs equal to 3% of the loan, assisting nearly 1,000 low-to-moderate income families to realize their dreams of homeownership.

Public Housing Authorities

The Governor directed $105 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to assist the five public housing authorities in building and reconstructing damaged or destroyed public housing along the Coast.  Additionally, the Governor directed the Mississippi Home Corporation (MHC) to create a set aside in their funding rounds that will result in 1,275 rental units being constructed for public housing authorities.

GO Zone Low-Income Housing Tax Credits

The Gulf Opportunity Zone Act authorizes the MHC to allocate approximately $106 million over three years in Low Income Housing Tax Credits to encourage the construction and rehabilitation of low-to-moderate income rental housing, serving people who make 60% or less area median income.  Governor Barbour has provided counsel to the MHC to direct maximum funding to the coast.  The GO Zone funding allocations were completed in July 2007, enabling builders to begin construction on $68 million worth of rental stock; additionally, administrators anticipate 5,730 Low Income Housing Tax Credit units will be built in the coastal counties over the next few years.

Small Rental Assistance Program

The Program is designed to spur development of workforce rental housing along the Coast by providing $262.5 million in forgivable loans to owners of small rental properties to create more affordable rental housing for lower income families.  Under the program, rental property owners must commit to rent to low-to-moderate income residents, with more than half of residents at 80% or less area median income.  About 6,000 workforce rental-housing units are expected to be constructed and rehabbed through the Small Rental Assistance Program.  Application guidebooks are now available and informational workshops hosted by MDA were held last week.

Long Term Workforce Plan

Through this plan, proposals will be taken from for-profit and non-profit entities to construct workforce housing along the southern-most counties, including Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, and Pearl River Counties.  These proposals, which must meet HUD requirements regarding low income families, will leverage private capital with CDBG funds to construct single family, multi-family rental, and home ownership units that will be available to mixed income tenants and/or owners. 

Other programs designed to assist all residents in the Gulf Coast area include the Ratepayer and Windpool Mitigation Program, which helps offset anticipated insurance premium and utility rate increases; the Economic Development Program, which provides funding to assist local governments in improving infrastructure; and Downtown Revitalization Grants, which assist in the rebuilding of downtown areas for economic development and job creation.

“Housing is and will continue to be the most pressing issue facing Coastal recovery, but I’m confident that the bedrock for housing recovery is dependant upon the faithful administering of these programs, many of which are targeted at helping low income families,” Governor Barbour said.

The above programs are part of Governor Barbour’s comprehensive housing recovery strategy and are administered by the Mississippi Development Authority.  For more details, please visit the MDA website at www.mississippi.org.

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