ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that nine non-profit groups, covering 12 counties, have agreed to help families and individuals still struggling to find permanent housing following Florida's 2004 storm season. Each will take possession of manufactured housing units under FEMA's new interim donation policy. As part of the agreements, people occupying those units will be able to remain in their trailers or mobile homes. They also will have their cases managed by a non-profit organization.
Following the 2004 season, 48 of Florida's 67 counties had hurricane victims living in more than 17,000 FEMA manufactured housing units. After months of intensive work with its state, local and non-profit partners, FEMA has ended housing assistance in 77 percent (37 of 48) of the counties with occupied units since 2004, representing more than 95 percent of the families once in the temporary housing program. Twenty-five percent (12 of 48) of the counties have been cleared specifically through the donations policy solution.
"We are thrilled about the response to FEMA's donation program and applaud the initiative of these non-profit groups," said Scott R. Morris, Director of FEMA's Florida Long-Term Recovery. "The donation of these housing units will boost local efforts to help 2004 hurricane victims finally get back on their feet. We hope to see many more groups do the same."
Coming off the books through non-profit donations are the following counties: Alachua, Brevard, Citrus, Columbia, Gilchrist, Marion, Martin, Okaloosa, Palm Beach, Sumter, Volusia and Walton.
The counties still with occupied FEMA-issued manufactured housing units are: Charlotte, DeSoto, Escambia, Hardee, Highlands, Indian River, Lee, Okeechobee, Polk, Santa Rosa, and St. Lucie.
FEMA adopted the new interim donation policy to provide alternative housing for eligible victims of major disasters and emergencies. The policy allows for the donation of occupied units to state and local governments and eligible voluntary agencies, giving residents more time in temporary housing while, for instance, rental markets improve, home repairs get completed and insurance payments are settled.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, economic status or retaliation. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, you should call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or contact your State Office of Equal Rights. If suspicious of any abuse of FEMA programs, please contact the fraud hotline at 1-800-323-8603.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.