Wanda Tiger and her husband needed a new home after a long-term house-sitting arrangement came to an end. But, according to an Associated Press report, for members of their Indian tribe in rural Oklahoma, affordable housing options were few.
Then tribal leaders learned of an attractive offer: Mobile homes that had never been occupied were available from the government almost free. They had stood vacant for years after being rejected as temporary housing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“When you ain’t got nothing, you’re happy with whatever you can get,” said Tiger, a member of the Absentee Shawnee tribe.
After the 2005 hurricane, the Federal Emergency Management Agency bought thousands of temporary homes for $20,000 to $45,000 each, both mobile homes and travel trailers.
The mobile homes proved impractical in areas where power and water service had been destroyed. And some people living in travel trailers started to fall sick, allegedly because the RVs had high levels of formaldehyde.
Tribes have taken almost 2,000 of the government homes and requested more.
The formaldehyde issue led the government to trash most of the travel trailers or sell them to people who signed papers promising not to live in them.
The mobile homes that remained were parked at FEMA storage centers all over the country, costing the agency millions each year to maintain.