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As the cleanup efforts continue across south Louisiana following historic flooding, the governor introduced long-term housing options for those impacted by the storms. He also announced a program to get people in their homes faster.
The governor said there were two options for people who were eligible for help through FEMA.
One option allows flood victims to live in mobile homes for up to 18 months. Those are for homeowners with more than $17,000 in damage or renters whose homes were destroyed.
The governor emphasized that these Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs) are not the same as the notorious "FEMA trailers" from after Katrina. The homes are built according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development standards and FEMA contract requirements. They will be available to certain people who qualify in specific locations due to FEMA requirements and parish and local zoning.
The mobile homes could be installed on people's properties or at commercial trailer parks. FEMA is still looking for other locations as well.
"We're anticipating a need for a significant number of these. We're not ready to put a number on that, but it's going to be the only option for a number of households," said Gerry Stolar, FEMA's federal coordinating officer.
"This is not the preferred option because most of these individuals are going to have to live in a manufactured housing unit away from their homes, and a lot of these people will live away from their homes which necessitates some transportation arrangement as well," said Gov. John Bel Edwards during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
The second option is the Multi-Family Lease and Repair Program (MFLRP). This program allows applicants to lease an apartment through FEMA for up to 18 months at properties repaired using FEMA dollars. Those qualified for the program do not have to cover the cost of rent.
The governor also introduced a program allowing people to get into their homes quicker. The "Shelter-at-home" program provides financial assistance for repairs to allow individuals back into their homes while they continue to rebuild.
Homeowners can only qualify if their home can become habitable with $15,000 or less in repairs.
"This program seeks to very quickly get people back into their homes. That's where our people want to be, they want their kids going back to their schools, they want to live in their neighborhoods, their communities, and they want to attend their church," Edwards said.
Individuals do not have to be registered with FEMA to participate. The program also does not take away from any individual assistance money individuals receive from FEMA.
To see if you are eligible for FEMA disaster assistance call 1-800-621-FEMA or go to www.disasterassistance.gov. To remain eligible to stay in a mobile home (MHU) or in an MFLRP property, applicants must demonstrate a continued housing need and show progress toward a permanent housing solution. FEMA may provide these housing options for up to 18 months following a disaster declaration. In extraordinary circumstances, the State may request an extension.
The governor said the short-term housing options are still active. According to Edwards, there were 2,600 people sheltered overnight in Louisiana on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
On Friday, August 19, the governor's office announced two options for temporary housing. The first is Temporary Shelter Assistance or TSA. This program provides a hotel room for people who are currently registered with FEMA, and who have indicated they are staying in a car, a shelter, a hotel, or a place of employment. In other words, the TSA program is for people with the most critical need for shelter.
The second option is finding a rental property. Anyone displaced by flooding can go to lahousingsearch.org and find an available property. The governor also asked anyone with vacant rental property to sign up to help out as well.