Housing meeting held here

Published 12:09 am Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Low-Income Housing Corporation of Alabama held its quarterly meeting on Thursday in the conference room at Robertson Banking Company in Demopolis.

“What we are is a statewide coalition that focuses on housing needs,” said LIHCA board president Marcie Porter. “Our goal is to bring together service providers, the government agencies and constituents from all over the state and bring them together with one voice for the state and what the overall need is for the state and how we can better meet those needs: how we can network, learn from each other and better serve our communities.”

LIHCA serves as an advocate to help people find the resources to get affordable housing.

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“Our target is those who are 30 percent below the area mean income,” said Porter. “They tend to be those with disabilities, those with mental illnesses, homeless – people that have fixed incomes, a lot of different needs and it’s difficult to keep them housed because they need so many other supportive services – but generally, anyone at that low-income spectrum because there is just not enough subsidy available right now for them to be able to afford even the affordable housing that has been created.

“What has been created has been great, and there are a lot of people out there doing a wonderful job, but we feel like this is a population that is underserved, so we’re trying to help. All these agencies serve these populations, and they’re doing a great job with the services they provide, but they can’t provide housing because their hands are already tied and their funding is so limited. So, we’re trying to connect them with the resources that are available and those who do provide housing and trying to find more resources at the same time.”

Porter and others working with LIHCA encouraged its board members and others at the meeting to support the Alabama House trust fund bill, HR512.

The meeting was open to the public, allowing people to hear what can be done to help people with low incomes get affordable housing.

“It was very informative, because we have so many housing problems in this area,” said Dawn Hewitt of Demopolis, who works in the Department of Human Resources. “If somebody would build more housing, it would help increase jobs and a lot of other things.”

“I think the important thing is to get people talking to each other,” said LIHCA board member Mary Jones of Sweet Water. “When urban renewal and all this stuff came through, people got displaced. They lost their roots, and we sort of forgot about humanity, which means we forgot about each other. Something that is important about this agency is to go across the state and get people involved in this kind of work, with housing, which is so lacking.

“Housing is a problem everywhere. I know it is in Birmingham and Jefferson County just as it is here.”