(WAFB) - Louisiana's request to extend the temporary housing program for some August 2016 flood survivors has received partial approval from FEMA.
FEMA has approved the use of its Manufactured Housing Units (MHUs) until May 15, 2018. However, FEMA has denied the state's request to waive rent fees for those units. Occupants will be charged a Fair Market Rent (FMR) beginning March 1, 2018. The state is planning to appeal the decision.
"Staff from the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and several other state agencies are working to coordinate a meeting in person with FEMA leadership later this month to address the continued need for direct housing. Different options and obstacles exist for our families depending on a variety of recovery factors, such as income level, contractor issues, availability of rental properties, and insurance issues. We intend to brief FEMA on these issues and request they reconsider their denial of the rent waiver," said GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom.
While the extension does not waive rent costs, is does waive the $550 monthly penalty occupants would normally pay in addition to rent if they remain in their MHU past the May 15 deadline. The 2018 FMR for Baton Rouge is $789 for a 1-bedroom property and $1,155 for a 3-bedroom property.
According to federal law, FEMA's temporary housing program ends 18 months after a disaster declaration date. The MHU program for August's 2016 flooding was set to end March 1, 2018. However, due to the extent of the damage caused by the flooding, paired with the additional strain of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the state requested a waiver of rent for those allowed to stay in MHUs during the extension period.
The state is still working with closely with FEMA for those MHU occupants participating in the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program to help rebuild their flooded homes. Restore LA is currently reaching out to those applicants. If you have applied and have questions, call 866-735-2001 or go online here. MHU occupants needing assistance should contact the state's Disaster Case Management program at 1-844-581-2207 (Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or by emailing DCMPinfo@la.gov.
As of November 8, more than 2,000 households (about 45 percent of those who received FEMA MHUs) have recovered and moved into a repaired home or found other permanent housing. In October, about eight households moved out of MHUs everyday to return home.
Also as of November 8, 2,437 households remain in MHUs. This includes 239 in Ascension Parish, 1,110 in East Baton Rouge Parish, and 716 in Livingston Parish.