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State needs more low-income housing and funding to help homeless according to advocates
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Scott Spivey speaking to Senate Housing Committee
Desare C. Frazier

The need for affordable housing for low-income Mississippi families is a growing problem, especially during the coronavirus pandemic according to housing officials. A state Senate Housing Committee is holding hearings to help draft legislation to combat the problem.

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Mississippi apartment renters who are on the brink of homelessness can receive help according to Scott Spivey with Mississippi Home Corporation. He appeared before the Senate Housing Committee to talk about the federal and state funding the agency distributes. Spivey says Mississippi received $18.5 million in coronavirus relief funds to help renters in immediate need of assistance.

“We can do outreach fund shelters, rapid rehousing which also involves hotel stays or finding an immediate apartment in the geographic area and related wrap-around services that come with that. So this is a versatile tool in our tool box that HUD provides,” said Spivey.

Spivey says three organizations including Open Doors Homeless Coalition in Biloxi, administer the funds. He says a $38 million community block grant is coming online in days to also help renters. Shante Crockett operates an entrepreneurship program in West Jackson. She says they’ve helped investors put 28 homes back on the tax rolls. Crockett says homelessness is a concern.

“We’ve gotta do something about the homelessness from a mother’s perspective. The homelessness and the mentally ill. We have got to do something. When my kids can’t can’t go outside and play because homelessness has taken over the parks it’s a shame,” said Crockett.

Thirty-three percent of low-income Mississippians struggle to pay their rent according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The hearing continues today at the capitol.