NATCHEZ — The Natchez NAACP branch takes a multi-tiered approach to addressing poverty and substandard housing in the community, and the group is calling on city and county councils to financially support these efforts.
Local NAACP leaders want the City of Natchez and Adams County supervisors to complete funding for federal housing assistance programs, specifically the SNAP program.
In December, Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, who is the branch president, presented plans to the Adams County Board of Supervisors, the Natchez Board of Aldermen and the Natchez Adams School District that would require their support – either financially , or with services in kind. .
The NAACP then invited each of the councils and other public entities to a collaborative meeting at the Louis Gunning Safe Room this week, and during that meeting, Mathis asked local governments to establish a budget to help those who meet the guidelines of the Mississippi ALICE report.
“ALICE” stands for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed” and refers to people who do not meet the income criteria to qualify for programs such as the Affordable Housing Project (AHP) or the Special Needs Assistance Program ( SNAP) sponsored by the federal government. Dallas Home Loan Bank.
“ALICE has a problem,” Mathis told officials on Wednesday.
Since 2013, the City of Natchez has partnered with local banks every year to participate in the SNAP program. The program has resulted in over $640,000 in home improvements and repairs in the community of Natchez. Eligible repairs completed in the past have included replacement of a worn roof, electrical and plumbing repairs, ADA upgrades, and replacement of non-compliant open-flame heaters.
However, the program is capped at approximately 20 applicants selected for aid each year. They must also fall into a low-income bracket based on their household size to qualify. Applications are typically picked up and returned to the Community Planning and Development Department at Natchez City Hall, and reviewed on a first-come, first-received basis.
Mathis asked each of the members of the Board of Supervisors and the Board of Aldermen to consider donating $50,000 each from their annual budgets to help citizens who are just above the federal poverty level but who are still experiencing financial difficulties.
“The NAACP is not asking you to give us money,” she said, explaining that the money would go to the program, not the NAACP, for distribution. “What we ask is that it be included when you do all your annual budgets.”
Elected officials who attended Wednesday’s meeting, including Alderman Felicia Irving, Alderman Billie Joe Frazier, Supervisor Ricky Gray and Supervisor Warren Gaines, said they would bring the NAACP’s financial demands back to their councils respective for approval.
“We are looking to increase the $50,000 to $100,000 and will ask our board to put that in our next budget,” Irving said.