Public housing: 400 families displaced, $38.5 million in damage

The Housing Authority of the City of Biloxi has released a report detailing more than $38.5 million in storm damage, and authority leaders say that more than 400 families have been relocated from the seven public housing sites throughout the city.

The 23-page report also said that Hope VI, the much-heralded $35-million-plus affordable housing initiative in east Biloxi, suffered more than $9.4 million in damage. In fact, 235 of the 305 Hope VI units – some of which were 60 days from being occupied by tenants – sustained as much as 10 feet of water.

“HOPE VI was a beacon in the community,” said Steven Palazzo, deputy director and chief financial officer of the housing authority. “It was a shining light in east Biloxi- showing not only the progress we’ve made in affordable housing but the actual realized hope of affordable housing to those very people who, after 60 years, had lost that hope.

“Those homes are empty now. Our employees and contract labor are gutting them and we’ll save them if we get funding quickly before the mold totally overtakes them.”

Palazzo said the authority is also seeking “a unit-by-unit replacement,” and is trying to secure funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to rebuild or repair public housing in Biloxi.

The 400 displaced families, he said, have been re-located to public housing in Mississippi or elsewhere in the South.

“We’re hopeful that HUD will realize how important it is that we get public housing back in shape in Biloxi,” Palazzo said. “HUD’s made a $35 million investment in Biloxi, and we’re confident that they’re not just going to walk away from that investment.”

The housing authority report, which has been posted on the city’s web site, can be found at