FEMA to sell trailers
Big Thicket Messenger - July 2007
In recognition of the prolonged recovery from the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently launched a sales program to sell travel trailers to eligible recipients.
At peak operations in Southeast Texas, FEMA leased 4,605 travel trailers to 4,245 households displaced by Rita. (Larger families required multiple units). The number of FEMA travel trailers in use continues to decrease as more pre-disaster renters find available apartments and more homeowners complete their repair and restoration work.
Currently, 1,630 households remain in 1,763 units spread out across 15 counties in Southeast Texas: Angelina, Chambers, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto and Tyler.
“We know there are still quite a few Texans hurting out there – with limited resources and many challenges,” said Sandy Coachman, director of the FEMA Texas Transitional Recovery Officer. “This sales program may provide a little breathing space as folks finish their repairs.”
Officials warn all occupants that travel trailers are considered temporary housing solutions and never meant to provide safe and sturdy shelter during high wind events.
The program is open only to those applicants currently residing in a FEMA provided travel trailer. The sales offer applies to that unit only. No substitutions or exchanges are allowed. Unites will be sold ‘as is’ and ‘where is’ with no stated or implied warranties. Once occupants purchase the unit, they will no longer be eligible for temporary housing assistance from FEMA.
Occupants contacted to participate in the sales program must sign and return a “Notice of Interest” informing FEMA that they are interested in purchasing the unit. Once FEMA receives the signed Notice of Interest, occupants will be notified about their eligibility to participate in the sales program. A FEMA representative will contact eligible occupants to begin the sales process or inform ineligible occupants of their status.
FEMA uses a mathematical formula to determine the fair market value of the unit. Sales prices will vary greatly based on several factors, including the type of unit, whether the unit was originally new or used, and the number of months the occupant lived in the unit.
Other costs such as state sales tax, hazard and flood insurance, local permit fees, and any costs associated with moving the unit may apply. Those costs are the buyer’s responsibility.
By selling the travel trailers, FEMA saves the cost of deactivating the units, as well as the cost of hauling them to a storage area or staging site for refurbishment before being used in a future disaster or being auctioned off as surplus government property.
Prior to any sale being finalized, occupants purchasing a unit must:
* Accept all responsibility and liability.
* Obtain local permits or inspection reports and provide copies to FEMA as required.
* Show receipts or verifiable documentation providing repair and replacement grants provided under FEMA’s Individual and Households Program, were used properly, to prevent a duplication of benefits.
* Comply with local floodplain management codes if the selected site is located with the 100-year floodplain or a designated Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).
* Agree to obtain hazard insurance for the unit, including flood insurance if the unit is or will be located in a designated SFHA.
Occupants who choose not to purchase may remain in their unit as long as they meet all eligibility requirements and conditions for FEMA disaster housing assistance and continue to seek a permanent housing solution.
FEMA began mailing out sales letters, and Notice of Interest to occupants last week. After receiving that first packet of information, those with questions may call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) (TTY: 1-800-462-7585).
Nationwide, more than 362,000 people were displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and forced to find alternative housing. The federal government remains strongly committed to rebuilding the Gulf Coast better and stronger and continues to support the residents of the Gulf Coast who have endured such an unprecedented tragedy.