RVIA: Use FEMA Units for Homeless Haitians

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January 19, 2010 by   6 Comments

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) is quietly promoting the idea that unused travel trailers set to be auctioned by the General Services Administration (GSA) be sent to Haiti to house those left homeless by last week’s tragic earthquake.

Coon outlined the association’s efforts in a note to RVIA board members on Monday (Jan. 18), and told today that RVIA lobbyists are contacting the appropriate federal agencies to pitch the idea.

”Our lobbyists are checking with the appropriate agencies,” said Coon, who added that the RV industry stands ready to provide traditional RVs for housing in Haiti.

Originally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) purchased the trailers for emergency housing after the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes. Tens of thousands went unused and remain in storage lots.

”We are just trying to make government officials aware that there are a lot of FEMA trailers in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana that could be used by the poor people in Haiti,” said RVIA President Richard Coon told

One problem in sending FEMA units to Haiti is the negative publicity garnered by lawsuits alleging that recipients of the trailers following hurricanes Katrina and Rita were harmed by high levels of formaldehyde in a handful of trailers.

One lawsuit already has been decided in favor of Gulf Stream Coach Inc., while Fleetwood Industries Inc. settled a second one. Others are still in federal court in Louisiana. ”I’m sure the government will be thinking about all the bad publicity they might get,” Coon said.

He said federal officials have yet to respond to the idea.

The GSA on Friday announced that it was delaying for two weeks the planned auction of 15,000 trailers that are stored in Hope, Ark.

”There are units down there that the Haitians could use for housing and so could the people who are going down there to help,” Coon said.

”I’m sure the Haitians would love to have an RV or a (FEMA) temporary housing unit,” Coon said. He noted that travel trailers and recreational park trailers now are built to meet strict formaldehyde standards set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

”The RV industry stands ready if anyone wants to buy more travel trailers,” he said.

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6 Responses to “RVIA: Use FEMA Units for Homeless Haitians”

  1. Karen Barrett on January 19th, 2010 2:19 pm

    Fine idea in theory to provide them with housing/trailers, but they have no sewer, water, electric – did not have before the earthquake anyway. Realistically, someone needs to clean it all out, set up (build/install) those basic services – while in the meantime, keeping the survivors alive/fed/clothed/housed etc in the years it may take to do all that.

  2. CamperDave on January 19th, 2010 4:22 pm

    As kind as that would be, as no sooner to they get there and the world (including our own citizens) accuse us of trying to harm the victims with formaldehyde exposure.

  3. hurricaneFEMAvictim on January 19th, 2010 4:32 pm

    Geat Idea, they could use these formaldehyde laden units for coffins!

  4. Guy Patton on January 26th, 2010 3:40 pm

    Where could be several problems with the idea of shipping these trailers to Haiti, none of which are larger problems than what the Hatians are experiencing now.
    Anyone knows who has owned, sold, or built an RV, Formaldhyde is released from woods, and other building materials, it can sometimes be detected by the irritation of ones eyes on a hot day. As the RV ages however the release of fomaldahyde is reduced. Has anyone bothered to test recently one of the more “potent ” units. I am sure the results would differ greatly from when they were only a few months old. Oh by the way, since fromaldahyde is released in greater quantities when the temperature is miserably hot, shen I detect formaldahyde in a new trailer when it is over 100 degrees inside, I open the windows and the door and come back 5-10 minutes later.
    The solution is simple, dont make it complex.
    Send the trailers to Haiti, they will be grateful, and we would be doing the right thing.

  5. Michael on January 31st, 2010 7:35 pm

    Gosh, it seems like a win/win situation … but that coming from someone all the way on the other side of the world in Australia. I presume the Haitians are desperate for shelter and one of these trailers would be a lot more comfortable than a tent or a tin shack. Sooo many problems to be dealt with after such a catastrophic tragedy, we do what we can to help don’t we?

  6. amber on February 18th, 2010 3:04 pm

    I kow this is a moot point- but out of sheer curiousity, can someone explain to me why it is not ok to send the trailers to Haiti because of mold, formaldehyde, and other issues. But it IS ok to sell them at auction to be used in the states.
    I just can’t understand, if it’s not good enough for charity, how is it good enough for camping?