In 2011 the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio joined a team of local and national partners to spearhead the first regional planning effort on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Plan for Opportunity is a three-year collaborative planning project to make the Mississippi Gulf Coast a more sustainable and prosperous region by enhancing regional coordination. Funded by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the Plan evaluated six topic areas including housing, economy, transportation, land use, water, food and resiliency. An extensive public involvement effort was undertaken throughout the planning work with the goal of engaging populations traditionally left out of the planning process. With its deep roots in post-Katrina rebuilding efforts and community-based design philosophy, GCCDS was the ideal partner to lead the housing component for the Plan for Opportunity and guide the public engagement process.
The Housing Assessment was the first step in understanding the complex story of housing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The report, completed in August 2012, examines key issues identified by stakeholders including affordability, vacancy, finance, insurance, energy, and the overall housing market and trends. Following the Housing Assessment, GCCDS conducted a Stakeholder Analysis to gather local knowledge about challenges and opportunities related to housing in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Region. A Fair Housing and Equity Assessment (FHEA) was developed to inform recommendations in the Plan for Opportunity and for use by the jurisdictions, organizations and community groups of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Region. The FHEA is a regional scale analysis that looks at the historical, current, and future context for equity and opportunity in the region. Finally, a series of Housing Recommendations were developed based on the two and a half years of research and with guidance from a housing subcommittee representing housing interests from across the coast.