MS: Housing Woes

In the three years since Katrina clobbered the Coast, nothing has been done to fix the problems inside Bullard’s public housing unit, for which she pays nearly $400 a month. In fact, none of the 75 barracks-style units at Woodland Park on Railroad Street have been touched.

Brown water stains darken her ceiling. A small white stove in the kitchen is rusty after three years under a leak. She uses old newspapers to sop up rainwater in the bedroom and moves plants and pots around to collect dripping water in the living room.

On Thursday, Bullard stood on her front lawn and told her story to Gov. Haley Barbour and HUD Secretary Steve Preston.

The government sent $105 million after Katrina to rehabilitate public housing on the Coast, and $2.9 million of that was for the Long Beach Housing Authority’s 75 units.

But in three years all that’s been done is some roof patching and other exterior touch-ups, and that work was largely funded by insurance money.

LBHA Executive Director LeNelle Davis said one of the biggest hurdles was a federal restriction on building public housing too close to railroad tracks. Davis said the LBHA wrestled with the government for more than a year and finally won approval to renovate the units, which have been there since 1969.

“All the units are going to be completely renovated,” she said.

The LBHA will solicit proposals from contractors in October and hopes to have all the units rehabilitated by 2010.


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