Administration Announces Plan to Help Hurricane Katrina and Rita Victims Living in FEMA Trailers Attain Permanent Homes

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Sheila Crowley 202-662-1530 x225; sheila@nlihc.org

Administration Announces Plan to Help Hurricane Katrina and Rita Victims Living in FEMA Trailers Attain Permanent Homes

WASHINGTON - The
National Low Income Housing Coalition welcomes the announcement made by the
Obama Administration this week that it will step up efforts to help people who
lost their homes in hurricanes Katrina and Rita and who are still living in
FEMA-issued trailers and mobile homes to attain permanent homes at long last.

FEMA had sent these
families notice that they had to be out of the trailers or mobile homes by May
30, 2009. The pledge by the Administration to make sure no one is made homeless
again offers needed assurance to many of the poorest and most vulnerable people
displaced by the 2005 hurricanes that they will not be evicted from the only
home they now have.

FEMA reports that about
3,450 households, primarily in Louisiana and Mississippi, remain in
these “temporary housing units.” Most of these units are located on
property owned by the occupants.  These are families who have not been
able to rebuild their homes because their state’s disaster housing
recovery programs did not include them or because the recovery funds they have
received are not enough. (For example, Mississippi’s
program did not cover homes damaged or destroyed by hurricane force winds.) In
some cases, homes are partially rebuilt next to the trailers in which families
reside. Under the new plan, FEMA will sell the trailers for a nominal amount to
people who want to stay on their land.

“The
Administration’s plan for FEMA trailer occupants is a long-overdue
solution to one of the most vexing housing problems that remains in the Gulf Coast,”
said NLIHC President Sheila Crowley.
“The new decision-makers in the Administration are examining problems
like this with an eye to common sense solutions, overcoming the inflexible,
bureaucratic inertia that has characterized the recovery response to
date.”

There are some serious
barriers to successful transitions for many families, however. The new owners
of the mobile homes are required to insure them, but the cost of insurance in
the Gulf Coast has skyrocketed since Katrina and
may be unaffordable to many of the people the program is intended to help. Both
Louisiana and Mississippi have unspent housing disaster
recovery funds and they should use these funds to pay for needed insurance.

Also, some local
jurisdictions have passed zoning laws that prohibit mobile homes to be
permanently installed. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
should examine these cases to determine whether they are intended to
discriminate against the residents of these homes in violation of federal fair
housing laws.

As part of the plan, HUD
is also making available $50 million for housing vouchers to the Katrina and
Rita affected areas that Congress appropriated in 2008 with a priority for
assisting people who cannot stay in the FEMA trailers or mobile homes.

“Lack of affordable
housing remains one of the most serious impediments to the full recovery of the
Gulf Coast. This week, the Obama
Administration took an important step on one aspect of this extremely complex
crisis. The National Low Income Housing Coalition looks forward to continuing
to work together with our partners in the Gulf
Coast and the new Administration
towards full recovery for all people of the Gulf
Coast regardless of their financial means,”
said Crowley.

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The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to ending America’s affordable housing crisis. Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, NLIHC educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone. NLIHC provides up-to-date information, formulates policy and educates the public on housing needs and the strategies for solutions.

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