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 RVBUSINESS.com 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 RVBUSINESS.com.
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.