The Steps Coalition of Biloxi, Mississippi, a Moving Forward Network participant, has done an outstanding job of holding their state government accountable.
After Hurricane Katrina, the State of Mississippi diverted $600 million in Federal funds intended for rebuilding housing to a huge expansion of Mississippi port facilities. The State promised that the port expansion would allow the retention of existing jobs and lead to the creation of 1,300 new jobs, 51 percent for low and moderate income workers.
The State did not honor that commitment, so the Steps Coalition and Port Campaign Coalition blew the whistle, sued. and triggered a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development investigation.
The result – HUD ruled against the State of Mississippi, imposed new reporting requirements, and threatened sanctions if the state doesn’t fulfill their commitments.
Sadly, State of Mississippi commitments have still not been met. However, the Steps Coalition, Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Port, Sierra Club, and NAACP are holding the Governor’s feet to the fire.
Here’s an update of status in Gulfport from the Storify web site, with a quote from Howard Page, Steps Coalition community organizer.
Coalition: HUD issues findings and threatens sanctions against MDA over port project, Mississippi Center for Justice, February 2014
Job Creation for the Port of Gulfport, Steps Coalition
HUD sued over Katrina Fund diversion, NBC, December 2008