Controversy over Community Development Block Grant money in Gulfport

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Wednesday evening, the Gulfport City Council held a public hearing on the proposed Community Development Block Grant amendment.

The City of Gulfport recently released its proposed community development block grants budget where the city hopes to reallocate unused CDBG funding and 2020 CDBG allocation for a total of $1.6 million to a new project in the neighborhood in Ward 1 known as the ‘Quarters.’

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Bar and Lounge Owner Jevon Vontoure looks forward to the city’s proposed urban renewal streetscape improvements and how the funds could help his community and business. “We’ve been there for 15 years now, so it means a lot. I mean we could’ve went away in 2015 when the place caught fire, but we didn’t. We reinvested. We brought a brand-new establishment back into play that we didn’t have to do. We could’ve just left, but instead we wanted to reinvest, so we’re here to stay.”

Long time Soria City resident Dorothy McClendon on the other hand wishes the CDBG Funding would go towards improvements in Ward 3 including fixing up local community centers and playgrounds. “These kids should not have to walk across that railroad track which is dangerous. They shouldn’t have to get in the car to go somewhere to play on a playground, to play basketball, to play this and that.”

Both Ward 1 Councilman Kenneth Casey and Ward 3 Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines talked about not wanting to take away money from the other ward and instead just fighting for their community needs. Ward 1 Councilman Kenneth Casey said, “And I will state the fact that there are low to moderate (income) people in Ward 3, but when you got unallocated funds and when you’re trying to represent and do the best that you can do through economic development.”

Ward 3 Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines said, “I am going to oppose taking all allocated funding.”

Along with streetscape improvements to the quarters, the proposed project includes rebuilding the Gulfport Job Corp School with construction slated to begin in early 2021.