Yesterday I reported about advocates for Gulf Coast residents still stuck in FEMA trailers for lack of a home to move to, and their calls for Barack Obama to "step up to the plate" as FEMA prepared to evict families finally from those trailers. Well, it sounds like he heard their call, so far. The Washington Post reports that Obama is authorizing the release of 1,800 mobile homes to 3,400 families who are facing eviction. The administration is also supposedly granting $50 million in rental vouchers for eligible families among that group. The source on this is a "senior White House official" speaking anonymously -- curious, given this wouldn't exactly be a controversial announcement. As of this morning, there was no mention of the plan on the FEMA, HUD or the White House Web sites. A brief talk with a spokesman from FEMA yielded no confirmation on it either.
If it's true, however, this will be a major relief for families suddenly faced with homelessness, especially given that hurricane season is about to begin. However, even for those able to retain their trailers, some will have to contend with their own local government to secure housing for certain. I remember talking with a guy in Mobile, Alabama, who showed me a citation from Mobile County that said he must remove the FEMA trailer he was staying in from his property. The reason stated, according to him, was nothing more than its being an "eyesore." His house was being renovated, he said, and was not fit to move back into, which is why he remained in the trailer. Meanwhile, FEMA told him that if he did move the trailer, then they would penalize him for tampering with government property. The Post article alludes to such local government complications:
Many local jurisdictions refuse to alter zoning ordinances to allow small manufactured homes.
More on this later, especially if the announcement from the Obama administration actually breaks.
-- Brentin Mock