For families and individuals in Pennsylvania displaced by flooding from both Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, it is still unknown whether they will receive FEMA trailers or when the temporary housing will arrive.
The Scranton Times-Tribune reported that as of Thursday (Sept. 29), Mike Sweet, a FEMA spokesman, said there is still no definitive date for temporary housing units to be delivered, and it is unclear how many people will actually receive temporary housing.
Sweet said not everyone who applies will be eligible for a FEMA trailer.
“Only a small percentage of applicants actually receive temporary housing units,” Mr. Sweet said. The agency is now using park model units to house victims.
People need to register with FEMA to be eligible, followed by a step-by-step process of interviews. First, FEMA examines information provided by each individual through registration – specifically how much damage was recorded and if their house is in livable condition.
If the structure is deemed uninhabitable, FEMA then looks at awarding rental assistance, a monthly rent stipend based on fair market rate for that area. Homeowners, if qualified, can be eligible for two months of assistance initially, then are required to recertify from month to month, up to 18 months.
If a rental property can’t be found, then temporary housing units are considered, but only after all other options are considered.
“The temporary housing units is not the first choice housing resource,” Mr. Sweet said.
As of Thursday, FEMA identified 2,900 people throughout Pennsylvania who will be called for pre-placement interviews, determining whether or not they have found a place to live and if they qualify for a housing unit, Mr. Sweet said.
The park model units are two bedrooms and are approximately 34 feet long by 12 feet wide, Mr. Sweet said, which would be adequate for a family of four. He said the trailers come furnished with a table, chairs, couches, beds, stove and refrigerator.
The locations of potential housing units are still to be determined.
If and when an individual is awarded a FEMA trailer, Sweet said there are three possible housing sites the unit could be placed: a commercial pad in an already existing mobile home park; a private site, where the trailer would be placed on an individual’s private land; or a community site, where FEMA would acquire land and build a site for units.
But no matter what site is chosen, two basic requirements must be met.
“All three have to have readily available utilities such as electricity, water and sewage,” Mr. Sweet said. “The temporary housing units can’t be placed in a flood plain.”
Local emergency agencies are in communication with FEMA to aid in selecting the best sites possible, should housing units be delivered.
Bristol, Ind.-based Hi-Tech Housing Inc., a manufacturer of custom factory-built housing and commercial structures founded in 1990, announced today that it has been awarded a second order for temporary housing units by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Inside Indiana Business reported that in response to the order, Hi-Tech will be opening a second plant immediately and hiring 120 to 150 production, quality control and administrative employees.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a part of the Department of Homeland Security, will use the specialized three-bedroom structures as temporary housing for the thousands of people displaced by this year’s floods and tornados. Hi-Tech received an order for 270 housing units in early July, all of which are being transported to the Souris River flood zone in North Dakota. This latest order, for 500 housing units, will provide additional housing in North Dakota, other areas affected by natural disasters in recent months, with some to be stored for future disasters.
Hi-Tech is one of only three companies that have been awarded multi-year contracts for these highly specialized housing units. Not only are they designed for rugged use, they have undergone testing for an extremely high standard of air quality.
The leased plant that Hi-Tech is opening is located in Middlebury at the Indiana Tollway exit. Hi- Tech will be hiring employees immediately for both the new Middlebury location and its plant at 1103 South Maple Street in Bristol.
The Job Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 pm today (Sept. 12) and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday. at the new Middlebury plant.