Housing Center Shifts Focus

The Hancock Housing Resource Center is shifting from disaster-recovery mode into a permanent nonprofit agency to help with housing needs.

Interim Director Rhonda Rhodes had been appointed as the center’s new director. The former grants and development manager for the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, Rhodes will head a permanent staff of four, including two housing counselors.

The center is gaining its independence as funding arrives for several programs to help residents with housing.

Rhodes said the center will receive a portion of $15 million in federal grant money to be disbursed based on need to Coast housing-resource agencies established in each county after Katrina. The center is guaranteed enough of the funding to rehabilitate or rebuild at least 35 homes.

A second program, REACH, matches down-payment money from employers to help workers become homeowners. The center will provide mandatory home-ownership counseling for REACH participants.

The center also is the lead Hancock County agency for the Mississippi cottage program that provides cottages to families who lost their homes in the storm

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