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HATTIESBURG, MS-A $350-million affordable housing plan, awaiting HUD’s OK since May 30, has been approved. The go-ahead opens the door for the state to bid construction of about 12,000 affordable housing units in a mix of single- and multifamily developments.

The funding is coming from the $5.4-billion Community Development Block Grant assistance that HUD allocated to Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The money is geared toward building affordable housing to replace what was damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. Because the majority of destroyed homes belonged to residents earning less than 120% of the area media income, the grant is dedicated to rebuilding and repairing units in mixed-income neighborhoods.

The state intends to create mixed-income communities through market-rate rental units and affordable rates, aimed at a range of income levels for multifamily and single-family dwellings.

A HUD spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that Mississippi’s overall plan is to get people moving back, which means development and/or renovation of owned and rental units. “They’re going to get to work soliciting bids from non-profits, private developers and others to go out and build housing from scratch, renovate housing that needs it, or provide closing costs to struggling families,” he adds.

The report says that the money could fund purchase of deteriorating, undeveloped or underdeveloped properties and acquisition for rehabilitation of properties that can be used or sold for residential purposes or conserved. The funding also can be used to directly assist expansion of home ownership among low- and moderate-income families. Another mission is evaluation and remediation of lead-based paint hazards and repairs in units acquired through tax foreclosures as a way to combat abandonment and further deterioration.

The plan also sets up a revolving loan fund to provide short-term, low-interest financing to develop workforce housing. Another use is providing technical assistance to private and public developers to aid neighborhood revitalization and economic development.

“It’s been nearly three years since Hurricane Katrina wiped out much of the housing stock in South Mississippi and working families continue to struggle to find a decent home,” HUD secretary Steve Preston says in yesterday’s press release. “This plan will inject critically needed capital into the Mississippi housing market, offering hope and a home to thousands of these families.”

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