Finding a Way 7 $3.2 billion to help households whose homes had been damaged by flooding, his administration decided that homes damaged by wind were ineligible for the federal assistance. During the hurricane, many inland neighborhoods were shielded from flooding by a berm created by a 19th century railroad track, but that berm didn’t protect them from the storm’s equally punishing winds. The state’s eligibility criteria denied help to these neighborhoods, which are largely African American and poor. In previous decades, racial segregation had pushed these communities inland from Mississippi’s beachfront. Two years after the storm, when federal funds allocated for housing remained unspent, the state sought to “repurpose” nearly $600 million of the housing funds to a vast expansion of the State Port Authority at Gulfport. Unfortunately, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) did not stand in its way, even though the CDBG program that HUD administered required that at least half of the funds be used to help people of low and moderate income, and only 13% of Mississippi’s funds had been directed to that population. Left without homes or assistance, many of Mississippi’s low- and moderate-income Katrina survivors continued to live in temporary FEMA trailers. They had nowhere else to go. Legal Avenues Explored Following the Katrina disaster, more than 50 Mintz Levin attorneys lined up to work as part of a concerted effort to help Gulf Coast communities and individuals in need. In fact, the firm was recognized by the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ), a nonprofit public interest law firm working to advance racial and economic justice, for our exceptional commitment to the region’s legal needs. Our work ranged from representing survivors to drafting a legal post-catastrophe resource guide for governors and emergency management agencies. Mintz Levin, in conjunction with MCJ and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, stepped up to represent James and other Katrina survivors on a pro bono basis in their hour of need. In December 2008, on behalf of James and other individual victims as well as the Mississippi State Conference NAACP and Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center, This is a major victory for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit as well as the thousands of households previously denied assistance who are now eligible for the federal aid they so desperately need. Laurence Schoen Attorney Mintz Levin continued