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Update on Shelter at Home and FEMA mobile home processes

4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago September 22, 2016 Sep 22, 2016 Thursday, September 22 2016 September 22, 2016 10:58 PM in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE – State and federal emergency officials released new information Thursday about post-flood disaster housing options.

GHOSEP said that the purpose of the meeting was to address immediate housing needs for residents impacted by last month's historic flooding.

Many residents have complained that the federal government response to the housing crisis has been inadequate. Residents have argued that FEMA's mobile home roll out was slow and unorganized. Others complained of the craftsmanship of the state's "Shelter at Home" program.

The first part of the meeting discussed Governor John Bel Edward's "Shelter at Home" program. Julie Baxter Payer, a spokesperson for governor's office, said that the program has ramped up "historically quickly" over the past week. The program pays up to $15,000 to make immediate, basic repairs to a home not significantly damaged by flood waters.

Payer stressed that the program is only meant to be a temporary solution. While the program is backed by federal dollars, the state is restricted by FEMA regulations from paying for permanent repairs.

Payer also said that more than 2,700 residents are still living in transitional hotel living. She said Edwards is continuing to look at all residential housing options to assist impacted residents.

Payer introduced Alice O'Connor, a Baton Rouge resident who received work on her home through the "Shelter at Home" program. She also introduced J W. Turner, a contractor that is doing work for the state in the program.

Turner said that depending on the scope of work, a typical job takes between a couple of hours to two to three days. Some homes may need air conditioning, exterior doors to secure, cleaning and sanitation.

If a homeowner has a complaint about the performed work, they can contact the Shelter at Home hotline at 1-800-927-0216.

Turner said the basics include a air cooled and secure home, a kitchen sink, toilet and shower. 

State officials say more than 19,000 residents have applied to recieve aid through the Shelter at Home Program. The state is currently averaging 400 inspections a day.

Payer said that the Shelter at Home program also covers residents living in manufactured and modular homes, but not travel trailers or Recreation Vehicles. The program is not available directly for renters, those residents have to rely on FEMA rental assistance.

FEMA said that 493 mobile homes are currently in place. Of those 493 units, 122 are in commercial and 371 homes are placed at private sites.  FEMA said the slow rollout is due to the process of making sure that the site is ready to recieve the mobile home. 

Private sites need to have utilities and space to fit the mobile home before the FEMA home can be placed at their site.

FEMA said that residents that live in commercial sites do not have to pay rent or utilities. If they are living on a private site, the utilities must be paid by the survir

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