7.16.2009

Families in FEMA trailers get some relief but Aug 31 deadline set for voucher recipients

By Jesse Muhammad for The Final Call Newspaper

(FinalCall.com) - On the verge of eviction from FEMA-issued trailers, Gulf Coast victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita received news that the Obama administration will allow the trailers to be purchased for $5 or less.

“It was a relief because I truly did not know where I was going to live,” said Brenda Washington of New Orleans to The Final Call.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development also plans to give these families top priority for $50 million in permanent housing vouchers. Congress appropriated money for the vouchers last year and the funds are projected to help 6,800 families.

According to the FEMA website, over 3,400 households, primarily in Louisiana and Mississippi, remained in trailers or temporary housing units. FEMA sent these families a notice to vacate the trailers or mobile homes by May 30. The deadline caused a major panic among residents who had yet to repair damaged homes nearly four years after hurricanes slammed the Gulf Coast.

The government will sell mobile homes for $5, and smaller trailers will go for as little as $1. Trailers that do not meet the government's criteria or have excessive formaldehyde levels will not be sold, according to FEMA. About 1,200 trailers are eligible for sale and families living in trailers that cannot be sold will have to apply for several hundred trailers FEMA hopes to donate through non-profit organizations.

“I applaud Obama for at least showing us some kind of attention so far and I hope it continues,” said Ms. Washington, whose trailer sits on the side of her damaged home. “This has been so stressful and most of us have been forgotten. We still need help.”

To read the full article click: http://www.finalcall.com