FEMA working with Hurricane Ike trailer occupants, rent collection begins

Legal news for Texas governmental attorneys. FEMA starts rent collection for Galveston County hurricane trailer residents.

FEMA’s Temporary Housing Program extended for Galveston County trailer residents, but occupants will began paying rent.

Houston, TX—After Hurricane Ike unleashed its furry in 2008, many Galveston County residents were left homeless and nowhere to turn. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was there when desperate and displaced residents needed help, issuing 782 trailers to the now homeless citizens. Two years later, FEMA will begin phasing out its Temporary Housing Program and residents are left figuring out what to do as rent notices appear in the mail, as reported by previous Justice News Flash coverage.

The Temporary Housing Program was set to expire on March 12, but has since been extended to July 9, 2010, at the request of the state. According to FEMA representative Jacqueline Chandler, “FEMA reached out to its temporary housing unit occupants, advising them, in a letter, that rent was going to be implemented and providing them with the Fair Market Rental Rate that could be applied for their unit. Shortly after, Caseworkers personally visited occupants, on a one-on-one basis to gather additional information that would be used to determine if there would be any reductions in the rent amount based on the household’s financial situation. A second letter, detailing the actual rent amount followed.” The average rent for the trailer occupants runs around $397.

Chandler stated, “according to the law, FEMA is allowed to collect rent from occupants of Temporary Housing Units after the 18-month period of assistance (March 12). Rent collection began April 1, although the Temporary Housing Program continues through July 9, 2010. FEMA, the state, local governments, volunteer agencies, and caseworkers are all working closely with occupants of FEMA-supplied temporary disaster housing units assisting them with their transition to more permanent housing. FEMA encourages all occupants of temporary housing units to take advantage of available state, federal and local resources.”

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for Texas government lawyers.