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November 20, 2006

eNewsletter from the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal

www.charlestonchronicle.net/recovery

 

Phase Two of Homeowner Assistance Program

Homeowners who did not qualify under the original multibillion-dollar grant program have another opportunity to apply for assistance to repair, rebuild or relocate under a second phase that has opened for public comment.

 

Phase Two of the Homeowner Assistance Program will provide funding up to a maximum of $50,000 for low to moderate income homeowners whose primary residence suffered flood surge damage from Hurricane Katrina. Such homeowners may qualify regardless of whether they were uninsured or under-insured and regardless of whether their homes were inside or outside the federally delineated flood plain.

 

The original program covered about 15,000 families and the second phase opens new opportunities for assisting more people, Governor Haley Barbour said.

 

“We’ve been working with the federal government for months to develop this second phase in order to help as many as 10,000 more families,” Governor Barbour said.

 

Phase Two includes a special needs feature under which eligible applicants who are age 65 or over, or who are disabled, or who have household income at or below 60 percent of the Average Median Income can get up to an additional $25,000, or a total of $75,000.

 

Also, an additional grant of up to $30,000 is available to help eligible applicants defray the cost of elevating their homes, if necessary.

 

Generally, a qualifying homeowner must have a household income at or below 120 percent of the Average Median Income (AMI), or about $63,000 a year for a family of four.

 

As with the original program, anyone who receives a grant under Phase Two and is rebuilding will have to elevate their home out of the flood plain, build consistent to the International Building Code/International Residential Code, and carry flood insurance.

 

In addition, Phase Two grant recipients must agree to a covenant on their property that establishes building code, homeowner insurance, and elevation requirements for them or any future owner of the land; and agree to remain at that site for three years, or relocate elsewhere in George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson or Pearl River counties.

 

Like the initial phase, this second phase of the program will be funded from the $4 billion allocated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The starting point for each individual grant calculation will be the cost to repair or rebuild the structure based on a damage assessment approved by the Mississippi Development Authority.

 

In addition to the homeowner grants through the first and second phases, Governor Barbour said the federal government has also allowed the state to allocate $100 million of the grant funds for restoration of public housing in the three coastal counties. The state is also working closely with HUD to fund more restoration of rental housing and other modifications to the original grants program.

 

Families that have already applied for the original phase of the program or already registered for follow-on programs do not have to re-register to be considered for Phase Two; however, homeowners who are uncertain are encouraged to go ahead and re-register. New applicants should call 1-866-369-6302 to schedule an application appointment.

 

This proposed modification – Number 4 Phase II – is open for public comment. Copies of the entire plan are available by written or telephone request from the Mississippi Development Authority call center (1-866-369-6302), or on the Internet at www.mississippi.org. The modification will be available in Vietnamese and Spanish translations at the same Web site.

 

Written comments regarding this proposed modification may be mailed to the Mississippi Development Authority, Post Office Box 849, Jackson, MS 39205 or sent via facsimile to (601) 359-9280. Comments may also be submitted online to . Comments must be received no later than December 8, 2006.

 

 

New Calculation for Homeowner Assistance Program

 

A new calculation of grant benefits for the Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP) will increase grant awards for over 2,000 applicants and may encourage more homeowners to apply for the program.

 

Under the new formula, grant awards will be capped at $150,000 after insurance proceeds and FEMA payments are subtracted from the home’s insured value or repair costs. Previously, the calculation’s maximum starting point was $150,000 and insurance proceeds and FEMA payments were deducted to reach the final grant award. Homeowners who received over $150,000 in insurance settlements and FEMA payments were not eligible for rebuilding help under the old calculation, but now may qualify for up to $150,000 to assist them in rebuilding their homes.

 

HAP applications are still being accepted at program call centers. Homeowners who have not applied and who may be impacted by the new policy should call 1-866-369-6302 to schedule an application appointment. Current HAP applicants who are positively impacted by the new calculations will have any additional grant funds automatically applied to their grant awards. They do not need to take further action. For those applicants who have already been issued a check - another check will be mailed if the new calculations result in an additional amount.

 

HAP call center locations are listed below.

 

Service Center

MDA Representative

Legal Assistance

Jackson County Service Center

Singing River Mall

2800 US Highway 90

Suite 1382

Gautier, MS 39553

 

Monday – Friday

10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Harrison County Service Center

Prime Outlets – Gulfport

10000 Factory Shops Blvd

Gulfport, MS 39505

 

Monday – Friday

10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Tuesday and Thursday

10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Hancock County Service Center

3068 Longfellow Drive

Building 6A

(Hancock County Gov’t Complex)

Bay St. Louis, MS 39520

Monday – Friday

8:00 am – 6:00 pm

 

Governor Barbour Receives Award

Governor Barbour has been named the nation’s most outstanding governor and a 2006 Public Official of the Year in recognition of his resourcefulness and cool-headed leadership in the face of Hurricane Katrina.

 

The award was given by Governing magazine, an independent, Washington, D.C.-based magazine devoted to coverage of state and local government.

 

“I am honored to receive this award from Governing magazine, but Marsha and I feel it is more a tribute to the people of Mississippi because of the character, resilience, courage and selflessness they displayed after Hurricane Katrina,” Governor Barbour said. “I graciously accept this award on their behalf.”

 

Governor Barbour is profiled in the November issue of Governing for “being straight with the facts about the utter devastation in the area, but also for his own demeanor in public appearances that suggested the state would summon the will to rebuild.” The profile, titled “Steady in a Storm,” credits Governor Barbour for putting his state on a road to recovery, as evidenced by the prompt reopening of public schools and the unprecedented provision of temporary housing for more than 100,000 residents.

 

The article also highlights Governor Barbour’s erasing of a $700 million-plus budget deficit without raising taxes, his increase of state spending on K-12 and higher education, boosting job training and economic development programs, and his successful promotion of broad policy changes, including a tort reform measure that has been hailed as one of the most successful in the nation.

 

This year’s group of nine recipients of Public Official of the Year 2006 awards represents the thirteenth to be honored in Governing’s annual awards program, which was launched in 1994.

 

 

Wetlands Permitting

 

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources has produced a brochure to guide developers and builders through the wetlands permitting process. The brochure, which was created to simplify permitting procedures and expedite housing development on the Coast, stresses the importance of active communication between developers and permitting agencies. Information is included on permit types, application materials and agency contacts.

 

Wetland permitting brochures are available through DMR or can be downloaded from the DMR website (www.dmr.state.ms.us) or the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal website (www.charlestonchronicle.net/recovery).

 

Coastal Impact Assistance Program

Mississippi’s four-year allocation of nearly $120 million in Coastal Impact Assistance Program monies will soon aid in funding a variety of recovery-related projects along the coast.

 

The Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) was established by Section 384 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was signed into law by President Bush on August 8, 2005.

 

CIAP authorizes funds to be distributed to Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas producing states such as Mississippi to mitigate the impacts of OCS activities.

 

Governor Barbour assigned the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources as the designated state agency to oversee the program. The funds are being administered by the Smart Growth Program of the Department of Marine Resource’s Comprehensive Resource Management Plan office.

 

Expenditures of CIAP funds are approved for the following authorized uses:

  • Projects or activities for the conservation, protection or restoration of coastal areas, including wetlands
  • Mitigation of damage to fish, wildlife or natural resources
  • Planning assistance and the administration cost of complying with CIAP
  • Implementation of a federally-approved marine, coastal or comprehensive conservation management plan
  • Mitigation of the impact of OCS activities through funding of onshore infrastructure and public service needs

The Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal, in conjunction with other business and community leaders in coastal Mississippi, assisted in scoring projects submitted to CIAP.

 

Eligible program applicants include state agencies, federal agencies, public institutions of higher learning, coastal counties, local governments and non-profit organizations.

 

CIAP funds can be used as a cost share or match toward other federal grants upon approval from the federal granting agency.

 

 

Long Term Community Recovery Plans

 

Emergency Support Function 14 (ESF-14), in conjunction with local officials, groups and citizens, has created Long Term Community Recovery Plans setting forth a vision for recovery in those communities hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. ESF-14, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), relied heavily on public participation to identify, refine and develop recovery projects in the areas of housing, economic development, infrastructure, emergency services and public services and facilities.

 

ESF-14 utilized extensive community input from interviews and public meetings to develop specific projects that reflect South Mississippi’s commitment to bring their communities back better than they were before the storm. 

 

Long Term Community Recovery Plans adopted by county and city governments in Hancock, Harrison and Stone counties can be viewed on the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal website at /www.charlestonchronicle.net/Recovery/links/index.html#Docs.

 

In order to provide technical support to the coastal counties, their cities and local NGO partners as they implement long-term recovery projects contained in the Long Term Community Recovery Plans and/or other local recovery plans, FEMA has created seven CORE positions to work in these counties and cities for at least two years.

 

Long Term Community Recovery (LTCR) Units have one staff member assigned as a county lead to serve as the primary contact/lead implementation staffer for each county. The county lead is supported by the remainder of the LTCR Unit team and will be augmented by subject-expert consultants.

 

The Implementation Technical Assistance Program (ITAP) for Long Term Community Recovery will facilitate recovery plan implementation by providing personnel with the knowledge and skill sets the local governments need to implement long-term recovery projects and programs.

 

Currently, the LTCR Unit has ITAP targeting four general sectors:

  • Comprehensive planning, land use and zoning, building codes and regulations, and GIS
  • Affordable and public housing development
  • Economic and small business development, downtown and waterfront development and related project development
  • General recovery project development, resource identification (funding sources and uses) and grantsmanship

 

“A Cultural Charrette: Conversations about Coast Community Life"

 

Four Mississippi cultural agencies will host a cultural charrette in Gulfport on December 1 and 2. The Mississippi Arts Commission, the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Mississippi Library Commission and Mississippi Department of Archives and History are holding the event at the Jefferson Davis Campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. This innovative gathering will bring together organizations and individuals to discuss the unique culture of the Mississippi Gulf Coast—its rich history, architecture, cuisine, way of life and ethnic diversity. Residents will have an opportunity to be part of reweaving the fabric that constitutes the heart and soul of the coastal area. This town hall meeting will encourage collaborations among cultural entities and interested residents as recovery continues. For more information call 1-800-647-7542.