Good Ole Boy Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is misusing Katrina Recovery funds meant for housing to rebuild the port of Gulfport. Or, as he puts it, he's "redirecting" the funds meant to provide permanent housing for those who lost their homes to the storm .
Mississippi civil rights and housing groups sued the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development yesterday to stop the distribution of nearly $600 million in Hurricane Katrina relief aid to expand the Port of Gulfport, as sought by Gov. Haley Barbour (R).
Filed in federal court in the District, the lawsuit alleges that the money is part of $5.5 billion approved by Congress for Mississippi after the August 2005 storm — emergency relief that was supposed to pay largely for affordable housing. But HUD granted waivers allowing the state to use 21 percent of the money for low-income housing, instead of 50 percent as required for Katrina aid channeled through the Community Development Block Grant program, plaintiffs charged.
In a January letter to Barbour, then-HUD Secretary Alphonso R. Jackson wrote that he shared concerns that the port expansion “does indeed divert emergency federal funding from other more pressing recovery needs, most notably affordable housing.”
Congress, however, “allows me little discretion,” Jackson wrote. He approved the funding shift before resigning in April.
Barbour’s office released a statement saying the port project is part of the state’s recovery program that was vetted by Congress. “It’s always been in the plan,” Barbour said. “Restoration of the Port of Gulfport is critical to recovery of the Gulf Coast from the worst natural disaster in American history.”
Found at New Orleans News Ladder.