MYTH: Occupants can cheaply buy the FEMA mobile home they live in.
FACT: Most FEMA mobile home occupants who are eligible to buy their unit to complete their permanent housing plan have already been notified.
The number of eligible households is limited. If you haven’t been notified, chances are you are ineligible. FEMA mobile homes are sold at an adjusted fair market value and not at cut-rate prices.
For details, go online to www.fema.gov/disaster/4277 and refer to the fact sheet “Some Flood Survivors in your Community May Be Eligible to Purchase an MHU” under Resources for FEMA Housing Occupants.
MYTH: I can stay in FEMA housing until the program ends on March 1, 2018
FACT: Housing program eligibility—and continued occupancy—is determined on a monthly basis for homeowners and on a bi-weekly basis for renters.
Disaster survivors provided temporary housing by FEMA agree to a revocable license. FEMA provides a place to stay, utilities and maintenance at no charge for as long as 18 months after the date of the disaster declaration. In exchange, survivors complete essential repairs to make their home habitable, or find other suitable housing.
Occupants’ progress is reviewed each month. Meeting with FEMA representatives supports their recovery efforts, directs them to available resources, and helps survivors understand and meet the terms of the agreement they signed when moving in.
Tenants violate the terms of their agreement if they:
- House unauthorized occupants.
- Leave the unit vacant for extended periods.
- Cause excessive damage.
- Fail to demonstrate progress on their long-term housing plan.
- Relegate the unit to something other than its intended purpose, such as storage or office space.
- Do not cooperate with FEMA representatives during scheduled meetings.
- Move to another residence without notifying FEMA.
FEMA may ask occupants who have repaired their home to a habitable condition to return the unit so disaster survivors elsewhere may use it.
MYTH: I can buy a FEMA mobile home online for pennies on the dollar.
FACT: Anyone may bid on mobile homes that FEMA has identified as unsuitable for disaster survivors elsewhere. The number of units available and their condition varies.
The General Services Administration is responsible for auctioning the units. Some mobile homes have been used locally and the city and state of each unit’s location is included in its sales description.
Buyers are responsible for hauling and installing units and those interested should check with local officials to make sure mobile homes are allowed permanently in their community. Other regulations may also apply.
Units may be found online here: www.govsales.gov.
Myth: Rental rates are set in stone.
Fact: FEMA considers each household’s circumstances.
At Gov. John Bel Edwards’ request, FEMA extended the February 2018 deadline for its temporary housing program by an additional 90 days. Survivors may remain in their units and pay monthly rent until May 15, 2018 as they continue home repairs or find other permanent housing.
Monthly rent starts on March 1, 2018.
Rates are based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s current Fair Market Rent by location and number of bedrooms. FEMA also considers each household’s circumstances—including income—when determining rates. HUD’s website contains rates here: www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/fmr.html.
Monthly rent covers not only having a place to stay, but also routine maintenance costs that FEMA provided at no charge during the previous 18 months.
Disaster survivors still moving forward with their recovery have a lot on their plates. That’s why FEMA has offered ongoing information on types of help available, deadlines and more. There should be no surprises.
FEMA representatives will continue to meet regularly with mobile home occupants to support the hard work it takes to get back into permanent housing. Occupants receive referrals to private and government resources that may help them to return home.
RESOURCES FOR RECOVERY
The state has several programs that may help 2016 flood survivors:
- Restore Louisiana’s Homeowner Assistance Program is a program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that provides grants to help homeowners repair flood-damaged residences. Visit restore.la.gov/homeowner-assistance-program or call 866-735-2001.
- The Louisiana Department of Health’s Case Management Program guides survivors to a broad range of resources. Occupants may call 844-581-2207 or email DCMPinfo@la.gov
- The Louisiana Housing Corporation’s Rapid Rehousing Program has a voucher program that may provide up to three months’ rent. It also offers case management services to help families develop budget plans to pay rent. Visit lhc.louisiana.gov/page/rapid-rehousing call 888-855-9277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The housing corporation also provides financing to developers and landlords to increase affordable housing in areas affected by 2016’s March and August floods. Visit lhc.louisiana.gov/page/disaster-recovery, call 888-454-2001 or email email@example.com.
Survivors unable to afford home repair materials or need help with permanent housing should call Louisiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters – a nonprofit network – at 2-1-1.