Chapter 336: Press Blitz, Part 2

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From WLOX.com: Wanted: Hancock Co. Residents Stuck In Housing Recovery by Danielle Thomas

HANCOCK COUNTY (WLOX) -- To all Hancock County residents who feel their housing recovery plans have hit a brick wall, there is someone who wants to hear from you. Officials with the Hancock Resource Housing Center are asking people to tell case managers what is keeping them from moving back into homes. Then case managers do the leg work to find the funding to met those needs through grants and loans.

Dale Strang says most of the work on his Hancock County house is finished. Now even remaining minor repairs are a major headache because he is out of money.

"We've got some shutters that we've got to put back," said Strang. "We've still got to get the roof done. And basically we've spent every penny we got from grant money and insurance."

Hancock Resource Housing Director Sherry-Lea Bloodworth said, "We want any resident who is in some phase of recovery who has not fully recovered in their housing needs to come register with us."

The center wants to fill the gap between what people have and what they need to finish their homes. The case managers have families to fill out assessment forms to figure out their needs and how much the construction project will cost. Next, the case managers look for ways to pay for it.

"We hope to be able to provide answers for anyone struggling to get back into their home," said Bloodworth. "That is the goal. I can't say it will be tomorrow, but I can say that we will work tirelessly until it is addressed."

Dozens of Mississippi's case managers who have been helping people to transition back into permanent housing may be losing their jobs on March 31st. That's when funding that has been paying their salaries is scheduled to run out. The Hancock Resource Housing Center says it may be forced to take up the slack.

Bloodworth said, "It will affect our organization because these Katrina Aid funded agencies are bringing their cases to us in Hancock County. We had somebody drop 350 off at our office last week, and that's 350 families that still need to get homes."

Dale Strang says right now he feels like he's on hold indefinitely.

"You can see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Strang. "Just like the train is running out of gas and you're hoping there's a fueling station between where you are and where the light is."

The Center is holding an outreach event Tuesday March 11th through Friday March 14th at the WIN Job Center on Highway 90 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Also participating are:

* Mississippi Center For Justice with attorneys to assist with contractor fraud/deed issues/appeals.
* FEMA officials will discuss the latest on the flood elevation maps.
* MEMA personnel will be available for questions on the Alternative Housing Program.
* Mississippi Development Authority will sign people up for the Homeowner Assistance Program.