JACKSON, Tenn. - While travel trailers may serve as temporary housing in some disasters, the hardest hit communities in Tennessee apparently have enough rental properties available to meet the needs of those displaced by the recent tornadoes and severe storms, according to state and federal officials.
"Travel trailers are never our first choice for temporary housing," said Louis Friedmann, the state deputy coordinating officer for this disaster. ?For most families, apartments or rented houses are preferable to living in a travel trailer for months at a time."
The use of travel trailers following a disaster also depends on local zoning, health, safety and environmental ordinances, which vary from one area to another. By law, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must consider those restrictions before providing travel trailers in a particular community.
"Applicants who are eligible to receive housing assistance from FEMA have many choices on how they may use that money,? said Michael Karl, who heads FEMA's recovery effort in Tennessee . ?They can spend it on repairs, rental assistance, or the purchase of new permanent housing. If they want to put those funds toward the purchase of a trailer, they are free to do so." Karl also points out that federal housing grants are limited, and the applicants themselves must decide how best to use them.
Specialists from FEMA's Housing Assistance Branch will help applicants locate appropriate rental properties for temporary housing in their communities. They can visit any state-federal disaster recovery center or call the FEMA help line at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).