Two years after filing suit against the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD), attorneys from Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo,
P.C. and Mississippi housing advocates are praising the three-way resolution
reached today between the Plaintiffs, HUD and the State of Mississippi. The plan
calls for the state to direct $132 million in federal disaster housing recovery
money to lower-income households in south Mississippi whose needs were not
served by the State’s previous programs – in particular, those whose homes were
damaged by wind as opposed to flooding.
Mintz Levin attorneys, working pro bono, along with the Lawyers' Committee
for Civil Rights Under Law and Mississippi Center for Justice, filed the lawsuit
in December 2008, on behalf of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP, the Gulf
Coast Fair Housing Center and four individual plaintiffs.
"This is a major victory for the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit as well as the
thousands of households previously denied assistance who will now be eligible
for the federal aid they have always needed. It is a testament to the
commitment of these Plaintiffs and the willingness of all parties to work toward
a pragmatic and satisfactory solution," said Larry Schoen, a member in Mintz
Levin’s Litigation practice.
The $132 million funding, provided primarily through HUD's Community
Development Block Grant program, supports the long-term disaster recovery in the
wake of the 2005 hurricane. The plan includes a new Neighborhood Home program
that will repair lower-income homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina, either as a
result of wind or flooding, and programs for qualified low-income persons to
occupy Mississippi Cottages and rental housing. The program is slated to
assist at least 4,415 already identified households who still remain in need
more than five years after the storm, and, in addition, likely hundreds more
homeowners and renters who will be identified over the course of a 75-day
outreach effort the State and HUD have agreed to fund and
As a result of the agreement, Mintz Levin attorneys have
filed papers asking the Court to dismiss the appeal that was pending in the U.
S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The Neighborhood Home program, which will provide up to $75,000 - and
possibly more, depending upon certain hardship considerations - worth of
repairs, rehabilitation, or reconstruction to lower-income homes damaged by
Hurricane Katrina. Other programs will provide assistance to qualified
households seeking to permanently occupy cottages and to qualified renters whose
apartments were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The resolution of this case is the culmination of a major initiative embarked
upon by Mintz Levin shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Since late 2005,
Mintz Levin lawyers and professionals have spent thousands of hours on a dozen
post-Katrina relief projects including providing assistance and advice to
hundreds of storm victims facing foreclosure and bankruptcy, representing
organizations like the Gulfport Boys' and Girls' Club and the Moore Community
House in Biloxi, which provides child care for low income mothers, in their
efforts to procure post-storm FEMA assistance, and drafting and helping to lobby
for the enactment of a Model Code of Disaster Laws in the State of
In addition to Mr. Schoen, Mintz Levin attorneys who also represented the
plaintiffs included: Martha Koster, Noah Shaw, Andrew Nathanson, Amanda Carozza
and Yalonda Howze.