State issues

Texas must learn from Mississippi CDBG fund misuse

Abdicating its responsibilities and caving to political pressure HUD has allowed the State of Mississippi to redirect $570 million of Community Development Block Grant funds earmarked for housing to be used to build new private seaport facilities at Gulfport.

This means low income families who suffered housing damages from Hurricane Katrina will be passed over as federal funds intended to “principally benefit low and moderate income families” are diverted to private enterprise.  Shame on HUD.  Shame on the State of Mississippi that engineered this outrage.

It should be a hard and fast principal that low and moderate income families should be first in line for disaster assistance.  Once their lives are put back together then, if resources permit, other public and corporate activities can be considered.  But in this case the interests of a large private corporation trumped the interests of families.

Congress should act promptly to stop this.

As Texas approaches the time when the state will have to prepare a plan for rebuilding the Hurricane Ike damages using federal CDBG funds I trust it will put the interests of families before those of private corporations.

I started my commitment to housing justice for people and communities with low incomes in 1975 in Austin's Clarksville community. These years of working side-by-side with dedicated community leaders to find solutions to housing and community development challenges have taught me some things and I’m learning new things every day.

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