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Housing Market Rebounds in Land of Katrina

[May 28, 2007.]


While much of the country is experiencing a housing slump, the real estate news is quite different in areas ravaged by the deadly Hurricane Katrina.

That's because areas where the hurricane hit are now experiencing a housing boom—perhaps the biggest they've ever experienced.

One county official was quoted as saying, "I think we're going to see a huge boom in construction in the next few years."

While home rebuilding seemed to be quite slow initially, the pace has picked up substantially in recent months in the areas decimated by Katrina. In fact, public officials are actually having a tough time keeping up with the demand for building permits.

In December, HUD approved a $700 million plan to aid low-income, elderly, and disabled homeowners in Mississippi. Meanwhile, the department O.K.'d a $500 million plan to jump-start recovery in some 49 Mississippi counties.

At the time, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson said, "This is a good plan that recognizes many lower income, elderly and disabled Mississippians are still struggling to get back on their feet. The plan…will help thousands of households to plan for tomorrow and will ensure working families will still have a home in Mississippi."

The $700 million plan provided for grants of up to $100,000 for each eligible homeowner. About 9,000 households were considered eligible for the program. A separate grant of up to $30,000 is available to pay for elevating homes where necessary.

The grant program is open to homeowners in Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, or Pearl River Counties, Mississippi, who owned a home that was damaged from Katrina. Eligible homeowners must also have a household income at or below 120 percent of median income. The government program may, in fact, be the catalyst for the building boom that has now taken the area by storm.


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