Update: 4-17-2022 local news outlet Acadiana Advocate on April 11, 2022 reported, "1,750 families are set to begin paying rent to remain in FEMA temporary housing provided after Hurricanes Laura and Delta. Some say they simply can’t pay it. A severe affordable housing shortage stops them from moving out." Read full article here.
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.