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When Housing Options are Limited or Nonexistent

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Release date: 
December 3, 2007
Release Number: 

PASADENA, Calif.? -- The recent wildfires hit remote areas of California hard, compounding challenges faced by disaster victims. One of the thorniest-and perhaps the most critical-is finding safe, affordable housing for everyone affected by the fire.

Housing specialists with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) talk with each victim needing housing assistance. Together they review housing in the area and discuss the applicant's long-term housing plans.

The goal is to find suitable rental properties in the local area. Moving into an existing resource allows the family to quickly re-establish their home. Contributing to the local economy is also a positive outcome of the process.

A few fire victims in remote areas were completely burned out or their homes were not livable. With no other viable housing options, FEMA brought in mobile homes and is working with applicants to find a viable solution. Currently FEMA is working with 22 people.

Before a mobile home can be delivered, however, several things must come into place. Locating and preparing the site is essential. It must:

  • Be accessible by road.
  • Be inspected to make sure it is of adequate size (FEMA mobile homes are over 64 ft.).
  • Meet federal, state and local housing guidelines regarding safety, occupancy, zoning and environmental laws.
  • Have acceptable water, sewer and electrical hook-ups available.
  • Be outside a floodplain.
  • Be cleared of debris and prepared for the mobile home.

Once the site is ready, FEMA will bring in the mobile home and begin the installation process. While FEMA works with local utility companies, it does not control their scheduling priorities. The applicant can move in only when all utilities are in place.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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