Every declared disaster gives news outlets their 15 days of reporting then they return about 18 months later to run headlines like, "Residents in FEMA trailers will have to start paying Fair Market Value rents or be evicted." You may even see a few state representatives and if you are lucky your federal representatives might even talk about the issue. But only one person, one agency in one branch of government can extend or offer different housing. That agency is your states Emergency Preparedness group associated with the Governors Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) which manages over all disaster recovery efforts to include the Office of Community Development, Disaster Recovery Unit (OCD-DRU). One person in the GOHSEP who is the states liaison with FEMA can get a 6 month extension and report that 6 month extension 3 or more times without evening trying hard. The key is to start calling their offices and asking them to extend the time you have in your trailer while you make repairs to your home. If your repairs are going to take longer than 2 years you should apply with the OCD-DRU who uses a friendly name of "Restore Louisiana Homeowners Program" located at Restore.LA.Gov . Call them and ask them for Mortgage and Rental assistance. The OCD-DRU has a program paid for by HUD that will assist with your mortgage payments if you are paying rents elsewhere or pay for those rents up to the area fair market value for rentals (FMV).
When you read, "Thousands of people could be homeless." don't sit back and do nothing. Pick up the phone, start calling the following numbers and ask for your FEMA trailer usages to continue without rents or to offer the $50 per month and have the OCD-DRU pay that amount for rental assistance until you find a home or apartment's to rent or your home is ready for you to move back in.
- Restore Louisiana Homeowners (and renters) Assistance managed by the OCD-DRU funded by HUD:
- Tel: 866.735.2001
- Website: https://restore.la.gov
- Ask for Rental Assistance if you are in need of reimbursements for renting while repairing your primary residence.
- Ask for Mortgage Assistance if you are paying your damaged homes mortgage while renting or staying elsewhere and paying for rents or another mortgage you acquired because of the disaster.
- Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP)
"Serves as the Governor's Authorized Representative for disaster events and is responsible for coordinating resources for state and local governments, private non-profits and our Louisiana citizenry.
- FEMA Press Release for 24 months of FEMA trailer usage after the August 2016 floods in Louisiana.
FEMA Announces Second Housing Program Extension Through August 15, 2018 for August 13, 2016 flood victims.
Editors Note: Send a note to me so I can monitor their responsiveness to your temporary housing needs. Contact using the form below on this page.
Editors Opinion: Our news media knows this will happen and should share with the citizenry the same information I have shared. But, if you haven't noticed over the last couple of decades the news media only publishes what the Governors office offers as a press release. Anyone would know that you have to ask FEMA to extend the time period and everyone knows that FEMA can go 3 years. Everyone also knows that the state can use HUD funds to pay for your rents, up to 22 months, Fair Market Value which is the same FEMA charges and best of all, the HUD program is funded and you do qualify if you are in a FEMA trailer now. Just one issue, you have to get the state of Louisiana and I'm speaking specifically the Governors Office which is the Executive Branch of Government to open the program for you to apply for rental and mortgage assistance. Shame on our news media for making disaster recovery just that much more stressful by not telling the whole story and offering solutions. Today's journalists are worthless after a disaster and you the survivors of Hurricanes from 2020 and 2021 are just starting to see what ten's of thousands before you have experienced.
Additional information below.
The fact is FEMA is not long term disaster recovery which is why FEMA needs to pack up and move on to the next disaster.
The Governors office can and will ask for another extension in Oct. 2022 as they did for the 2016 flood victims. The costs of rent can and should come from HUD CDBG-DR funds which are managed by the state agency Office of Community Development - Disaster Recovery Unit (OCD-DRU). The OCD-DRU under HUD policy can offer Mortgage and Rent assistance for up to 22 months. The OCD-DRU could even manage to purchase the FEMA Manufactured Housing Units (MHU) via a local not for profit and then give them to those that can not afford to purchase or make the total cost less than 10% of the actual cash value. In Livingston Parish some units were offered to flood victims in the $5,000 range. Other units where donated by Catholic Charities who were offered CDBG-DR funds to purchase MHU's for low income families. The State of Louisiana has many creative ways of working the federal tax dollars from different federal agencies. Call your governors office and call the state agency OCD-DRU working under the Restore Homeowners Program. Their managers will remember how to help households who had mobile homes and they will assist with Temporary Housing Assistance (THA) which pays matched fair market value the same that FEMA is asking. You simply have to qualify as being major to severely damaged by Hurricanes Delta or Laura for the THA this summer.
Contact the state agency OCD-DRU Restore group at (866) 735-2001 and ask them for Temporary Housing Assistance application information.
From the 2016 Floods Restore Louisiana Homeowners Manual the replacement reimbursements were $45,000 and $65,000, "The maximum Program cap for mobile home replacement is either $45,000 or $65,000 depending upon whether you are replacing a single-wide or a double-wide mobile home."
The amount the state offered at the time back in 2018 was about $24,000 to $27,000 below the actual costs. Most all had to take a small loan to cover the cost overage. Fast forward to the inflation we are experiencing in 2022 and you should be looking at 35% increase to the costs of a MHU in 2019. For example, a 15x72 MHU is roughly 1,080/sf for a single wide MHU. The state was offering $42 per square foot for replacement costs in 2018. The state has not updated the newest action plan to include replacement costs but based on what increase they made to Solution 2 reconstruction it might be about 9.26% which would make a single wide reimbursement total $4,167 more or $49,167 which the state would make $50,000 for single and $6,019 more for double wide making the reimbursement $71,019 which would be rounded to $70,000. This is still not enough to cover a replacement so you should be posting public comments to get the attention of state managers to what the real costs of ownership is for MHU households. It's totally up to you to voice your concerns before HUD approves the action plan. After that, you will never get the governors OCD-DRU to change, only companies under contract to manage the program will have a voice for cost increases not the public or disaster survivors.
OCD-DRU Master Action Plan and Action Plan Amendments Public Comment Notifications posted here.
Members of the public can submit comments several ways:
- Emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mailing them to Disaster Recovery Unit, P.O. Box 94095, 70804-9095, Attn: Janice Lovett
- Faxing them to the attention of Janice Lovett at 225.219.9605.
Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta forced thousands into FEMA sponsored mobile homes (MHU) and Travel Trailers. FEMA typically provides temporary shelters for 18 months then starts the process of storing the MHU's and trailers for the next disaster.
Your governor has the option of requesting additional time for the MHU's and trailers. FEMA will grant the additional time and offer the shelters for rent. Rents are always asked to be waived but they seldom are waived to zero. FEMA has to justify the monthly inspections and will ask for fair market value for rents then they will settle on $50 per month which could be higher in 2023 for cost of living adjustments. But since 2018 the rents have been $50 on a month to month inspection schedule after the 18th month from the date of the declared disaster.
In Louisiana Governor Edwards seems to always wait for the last week before applying to FEMA for your extensions. This follows the process of allowing the people to find alternative housing so the state can lower it's demand for FEMA assistance. During the 2016 floods in Louisiana and after the 18th month the state produced reports indicating a housing shortage and the inability for many to pay more than 30% of the household income. The Governor's disaster team went as far as to indicate what a household has to earn to be able to pay fair market rent. At the time of the report, (Nov. 2016) a 2 bedroom was $822 per month, minimum wage was $7.25 and the household needed to have at least $15.81 per hour to avoid paying more than 30% of their total income to housing.
FEMA will most likely approve a 6 month extension once the governor asks for it. In the past FEMA has responded with minimum monthly rents and has included rent increases of 50% FMR to full Fair Market Rents (FMR). Many homeowners still rebuilding their homes were able to stay in the temporary housing until their homes were finished. The state worked with FEMA to show homeowner progress similar to what FEMA requires people to do now which is to search at least 3 other locations per month to rent.
The state has rental programs that will and should take over once FEMA's rental program ends. Be sure you visit "Disaster Assistance by Louisiana Governors Get a Game Plan using Communications Obscurity to limit assistance" for more links to more assistance.
When your extensions are granted you should not plan on staying long. You will need to find a new place fast. You'll need to ask about renters assistance which can pay part if not all (depending on income) of your rents for 18 to 20 months. If you are a homeowner you'll need to also file for mortgage assistance along with rental assistance and take the higher paying services. Often it's best to accept the rental assistance while you repair your home.
You're going to be reading about the $595 million not being enough to pay for all the unmet needs. The program is designed to have several allocations unless HUD or Congress say this is it, no more allocations. Your US Congressional representatives will know more on what they are asking for. The $595 will get the state moving forward once the state submits it's action plan and requests for waivers. This is where the people of the disaster have to get involved so you get your share of the recovery funds. Otherwise, you're going to be taking on all the disaster debt burden yourself.
If you find a place to rent and it's too expensive, check the Fair Market Rents (FMR) from HUD for that area. Then ask the state to reduce the payment with HUD funds. This is rental assistance which can pay all or a part of your rents. Typically the rental assistance pays the FMR then you the occupant pays the remaining amount. So if FMR is $800 and your rent is $1,000 you will be paying $200 per month.
If you have questions call the states housing authority also called OCD and OCD-DRU which handles HUD grants and assistance.