Targeting Mississippi's misplaced priorities

A New York Times editorial last week took a hit at Mississippi over its misspending of Hurricane Katrina relief funds.

Facing South has reported on the controversy surrounding the State of Mississippi's plans to divert emergency federal funding from pressing recovery needs, most notably affordable housing. Mississippi plans to transfer $600 million from a housing program created to help low-income homeowners in order to expand the StatePort at Gulfport. Last month several members of Congress signed and sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee in protest of the transfer.

The NYT editorial comments on this move:


The members [of Congress] are rightly outraged by a state plan that will siphon off more than a half-billion dollars in disaster aid for the redevelopment of the port of Gulfport, which local boosters have long envisioned as a hub for cruise ships and gambling. That is not what Congress intended when it voted to distribute the Katrina aid through the Community Development Block Grant program, which was set up in the 1970s to improve housing, economic opportunities and quality of life for the poor.

Congress must use its power to ensure that any remaining Katrina money goes to low-income households. It can start by barring Mississippi from using the block-grant funds for the Gulfport project. It must also close the loopholes in the block-grant law to ensure that future disaster aid goes to those who truly need it.