The Mississippi Development Authority intends for 51 percent of new jobs at the state port to be filled by low- to moderate-income residents, but never said current jobs would meet that goal, the agency says in response to concerns the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has raised.

MDA secured $570 million in HUD recovery dollars for improvements at the port’s West Pier as an economic development project that would benefit low- to moderate-income residents. MDA must track jobs and report them to HUD to show the project is meeting its goals, or potentially face having to repay the money.

HUD informed MDA this spring the agency had documented only 50 of 1,286 existing jobs claimed at the port. MDA, HUD said, would have to supply documentation by early June that showed 51 percent of the total jobs are held by low- to moderate-income people.

MDA provided the Sun Herald with its response to HUD after the newspaper filed a written request for the records that an MDA staffer agreed to hand-deliver Friday to the agency’s office in Jackson. MDA insisted the request be hand-delivered or sent by mail.

MDA says in the response only 10 percent of port jobs were held by low- to moderate-income people when HUD awarded funding. Compliance will ultimately come, MDA says, through creation of new jobs.

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