Post Katrina Housing Recovery

In 2008, Gerald Blessey was appointed the Post Katrina Housing Director by Governor Haley Barbour. The charge to restore and rebuild housing on the Coast was not an easy job for one man. Today, he spoke at the Ohr O’Keefe Museum about the challenges he overcame.
Sixty thousand homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast. “It was a war zone. It was just gone,” said Gerald Blessey.
In 2008, the former Mayor of Biloxi was appointed to facilitate progress in post Katrina housing recovery. “Managing and supervising and cutting red tape to get the programs accelerated. Then we finally did a deal with the Center for Justice on the final program where we work through the numbers. It’s really getting the facts and the law and the money all agreeing with each other,” said Blessey.
Right now, there are 96,000 less jobs and 29,000 less hotel rooms  on the Coast than before Katrina. While a good portion of the Coast has been rebuilt, a lot of the housing still remains demolished with slabs and stairways that lead to nowhere and still serve as a reminder of the storm.
“That’s the reflection of our need to revive our economy and insurance is hurting a lot of that because a lot of those slabs are in places you can’t build back at that elevation. So, it costs more to build up and then you have higher insurance, so it’s a deterrent to restoration,” said Blessey.
After Katrina, two man-made disasters, the recession in 2008 and the 2010 BP oil spill, only kicked the Coast’s economy while it was down. Blessey thinks the best way to boost the economy now is to take the BP money and put it into a public trust, so the money can be invested and continue to produce growth. “A public trust to spend here on the Coast, governed by Coast leaders, to do Coast priorities. Let’s not give it away, let’s invest it so its there forever, generating new jobs, better education and all the other things that we need.”

Categories: Local News, News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *