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June 28, 2006

eNewsletter from the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal


Governor’s Housing Recovery Council

The Governor’s Housing Recovery Council has been established to bring together housing stakeholders to support and coordinate housing recovery efforts.  Using the recommendations from the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal and others generated over time, the Council will develop and help implement tangible solutions that reflect local needs. The scope of this work will go beyond the Commission recommendations to include additional priorities such as training, education, systems enhancement, funding and information coordination.


As a working body, the Council will identify gaps or deficiencies in the recovery effort as well as the resources (including funding, technical assistance and policies) needed to help the state rebuild the coast better than it was before Katrina, while eliminating the unnecessary duplication of effort that often occurs following disasters. Collaboration is required in order to help shape overall policy and actions across housing concerns. To maintain an effective dialogue with the state’s partners, the Council will provide a communication forum on news, information sharing, key meetings, and other important events. Providing both a strategic and tactical role in the recovery effort, the Council will be instrumental in executing the recommendations set by the Commission and those identified by Council participants. 


For more information on the Governor’s Housing Recovery Council, click here.


Katrina Relief Funds Approved


Congress recently passed and President Bush signed into law a bill providing much-needed relief to states affected by Hurricane Katrina.  The bill contains $19.8 billion in hurricane relief for Gulf Coast states, including $5.2 billion for Community Development Block Grants and $400 million for a temporary housing pilot program to replace travel trailers with cottages.


For more information on the bill, click here.


Gulf Coast Regional Infrastructure Program

Governor Haley Barbour recently announced that a draft action plan has been published detailing how the state will administer $500 million in federal grants for building new water and sewer infrastructure in the Gulf Region after Hurricane Katrina.


The Gulf Coast Regional Infrastructure Program is designed to address the importance of providing reliable water, sewer and storm water infrastructure and the long-term impact this will have on the recovery of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Specifically, the program details the state’s plans for developing a master plan for water, sewer and storm water systems throughout the lower six counties and explains to HUD how funding for infrastructure development will be administered by the state. 


The Gulf Coast Regional Infrastructure Program Action Plan stems from the Legislature’s enactment, during the 2006 legislative session, of the Gulf Region Water Utility Authority Act—a key recommendation of Governor Barbour’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal—which provides for regionalized water, sewer, and storm water systems throughout George, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River and Stone counties. 


The regionalized systems will utilize federal grant funds in the most efficient and effective means possible to implement the recommendations of the master plan being developed by the Department of Environmental Quality.  The Gulf Coast Regional Infrastructure Program Action Plan will detail this information to HUD and, once approved, allow for the release of federal funds to Mississippi.


To view the Gulf Coast Regional Infrastructure Program Action Plan, please visit the Mississippi Development Authority’s website, www.mississippi.org.



Debris Removal Extension

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to extend the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mission to finish debris removal along the hardest hit areas of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 


The mission extension extends the June 30 debris removal deadline for the cities of Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Waveland and unincorporated areas of Hancock County.  The Corps of Engineers now has until August 29th to complete debris removal operations in those areas. 


Social Services Block Grant

Governor Barbour recently announced the Mississippi Department of Human Services Office for Children and Youth’s award of Social Services Block Grant funds of more than $14.4 million to Mississippi State University (MSU) Early Childhood Institute and MSU Cooperative Extension Service. The grant will be used to recover and restore childcare programs damaged by Hurricane Katrina.


“It is an immediate concern of parents to have a safe and healthy environment for the care of their children,” Governor Barbour said. “These parents cannot successfully return to work or focus on work issues when there is no child care available. Therefore, there is a critical need to restore child care services within these counties hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.”


The MSU Early Childhood Institute will use the grant to reconstruct a childcare facility, restore playgrounds, provide age appropriate educational materials, and provide training to licensed and exempt facilities in damaged areas by April 2007.


The MSU Cooperative Extension Service, through its MSU Nurturing Homes Initiative, will work to restore and re-establish childcare services for in-home child care businesses to the pre-Hurricane Katrina care level.


D’Iberville Charrette

The city of D’Iberville recently hosted a charrette to create designs for housing, business and development in the city.  From Saturday, June 10th through Wednesday, June 14th, D’Iberville residents participated in the planning process by viewing and providing feedback on designs presented by teams of architects.  Topics included waterfront development and mixed-use neighborhoods that blend residential and commercial development.  Members of the planning team also developed maps displaying on a parcel-by-parcel basis the new advisory flood elevation heights.  Foundation designs were developed that reflect the architectural styles present in the community as a means to show residents how their residences would look given new floodplain management requirements. 


To read more about the D’Iberville charrette, click here.


Waveland Charrette


Waveland has stressed community involvement for its charette taking place Saturday, June 24th through Wednesday, June 28th at Bay-Waveland Middle School. The public is invited to attend the four-day planning session to share their voices in the rebuilding of Waveland.


To read more about the Waveland charrette, click here. 


Grant Opportunities


The Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal has created a document to track grant opportunities from federal, state, nonprofit and foundation sources to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina. 


The grants matrix, which will be updated every two weeks, lists funding opportunities for a wide-range of needs, such as health care, education, infrastructure and the arts.  The matrix details information for each grant, including guidelines, eligible applicants, funding amounts, deadlines and contact information.


The matrix can be found at the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal website, www.charlestonchronicle.net/recovery, under the “Links” section.


To view the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Renewal Grant Matrix, click here.


Marine Resources Grants


The Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (DOC/NOAA) recently announced two grants concerning marine resource habitat conservation. 


Community-based Habitat Restoration Partnership Grants will establish multi-year national and regional habitat restoration partnerships for up to three years. Partnerships are expected to catalyze the implementation of locally-driven, grass-roots habitat restoration projects that will benefit living marine resources. NOAA envisions working jointly on such partnerships through its Community-based Restoration Program (CRP) to identify, evaluate, fund, and administer projects with substantial community involvement that restore NOAA trust resource habitats.


Typical partnership awards will range from $200,000 to $600,000 per year. Applications are due by October 25, 2006.


For more information on the Community-based Habitat Restoration Partnership Grants, click here.


Community-based Marine Debris Prevention and Removal Project Grants use funding available through the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) to implement grass-roots projects to prevent or remove marine debris that will benefit living marine resource habitats. Projects funded through the NOAA Community-based Marine Debris Prevention and Removal Project Grants competition will be expected to have strong on-the-ground marine debris prevention or removal components that provide educational and social benefits for people and their communities in addition to long-term ecological habitat improvements for NOAA trust resources.  Applications are due by October 30, 2006.


For more information on Community-based Marine Debris Prevention and Removal Project Grants, click here.


Wind Pool and Utility Rates Help


Governor Barbour recently announced the set aside of $50 million in state-administered federal grants to mitigate an expected increase in the cost of insurance to consumers under “wind pool” policies.


The wind pool – officially known as the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association – is an insurer of last resort for homes and businesses in Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, Stone, George and Pearl River counties. It is funded through customer premiums and assessments from every insurance company in Mississippi.


As a result of Hurricane Katrina, 16,000 policy holders in the wind pool, almost all of whom have already incurred devastating personal losses, face the prospects of huge increases in their annual premiums for wind and hail insurance. Governor Barbour, joined at a Biloxi news conference by Insurance Commissioner George Dale, said such increases – resulting from a spike in wind risk reinsurance rates for high risk properties on the Coast – would be economically debilitating.


“Mitigation of these costs is integral to the recovery of the Mississippi Coast. If insurance becomes unaffordable, financing and rebuilding efforts become much more difficult,” Governor Barbour said. The Governor said he intends to use $30 million this year and $20 million next year in Community Development Block Grants to offset these costs, making policies more affordable for consumers who need the protection.


Many industry observers believe that absent another huge storm, reinsurance costs will substantially decrease for the 2007 hurricane season. With a grant to cover the surge in reinsurance cost, the wind pool can reduce the amount of premium increase needed for 2006.


As part of an approval process through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Governor’s plan for wind pool mitigation and a ratepayer mitigation plan to defray potential additional consumer costs resulting from utility infrastructure restoration in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are open for public comment.


The ratepayer mitigation plan is designed to help South Mississippi customers of utilities that incurred additional costs to provide emergency and temporary services after Katrina.


The Ratepayer and Wind Pool Mitigation plans are posted on the Mississippi Development Authority website, www.mississippi.org. The draft plan is also available at county courthouses, administrative offices and city halls.


Housing Needs Assistance Program


Governor Barbour is working with HUD to expand the Homeowners Grant Program to provide assistance to homeowners whose homes were located in the floodplain and flooded but were not eligible for the original program.


In an effort to design more effective housing assistance programs for Hurricane Katrina victims, Governor Barbour is asking low- and moderate-income homeowners who sustained flood damage to their homes due to Hurricane Katrina to register.


To register, call 1-866-369-6302 to make an appointment at one of the program's service centers located in Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Gautier and Jackson. The Service Centers will be open beginning June 22 and remain open for about four weeks.


For more information on the Housing Needs Assistance Program, click here.