Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that his request to extend the temporary housing program for survivors of the August 2016 floods has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through August 15, 2018. Gov. Edwards requested that homeowners be given additional time and the low rent for the Mobile Housing Units (MHUs) be retained as survivors rebuild their homes that were either severely damaged or destroyed by the floods. While FEMA has granted the extension, it has also imposed incremental rent increases on the MHUs, which the governor will appeal.
“While the number of people living in MHU’s continues to decline, many of our citizens still need support from this program,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “We are pleased FEMA has extended the program until August. This will give our families more time to complete repairs as the tremendous flood recovery process moves forward. We also understand that the incremental rent increases could prove to be a hardship for many families, which is why we will continue working with those families and FEMA to find affordable long-term housing solutions.”
Survivors continue to make strides in recovery with less than 1,000 households in housing units almost two years after the disaster. At the state’s request, FEMA provided MHUs as a last resort to some survivors who were unable to find temporary housing.
As part of the last extension, FEMA reduced rent for occupants to program minimum of $50 per month. This new extension calls for incremental rent increases for those who remain in the program.
FEMA staff will actively work with occupants to determine the amount of rent that is within their financial ability by taking into account each household’s income and current housing expenses (including mortgage payments on their pre-disaster residence).
The following information concerning rent was provided by FEMA:
This extension will include incremental rent increases up to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fair Market Rent (FMR) based on the number of bedrooms in the MHU and its geographical location. When implemented, this incremental rent increase approach will waive Chapter 5, Section III.D of the Individuals and Households Program Unified Guidance (IHPUG), outlining monthly MHU rent computation, and will nullify the statement contained in FEMA’s February 9, 2018 letter concerning the resumption of standard MHU rent.
June 2018: All occupants will have a continuation of their current rent reduction at the policy minimum of $50 per month.
July 2018: All occupants will have an automatic increase in the rent amount up to one-half of the HUD FMR, based on the number of MHU bedrooms and the unit’s geographic location.
August 2018: All occupants will be charged rent up to the full HUD FMR based on the number of MHU bedrooms and the unit’s geographic location.
The state’s Rehousing Panel, led by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), continues to meet and work with FEMA on long- term solutions for MHU occupants. Flood survivors in MHU’s are required to prove they are making progress or home repairs or finding permanent housing. FEMA will allow those who continue to meet FEMA’s eligibility requirements to remain in the program until the new deadline date. The state will consider requesting additional extensions to the MHU program if information from the Rehousing Panel indicates there is still a need.
By federal law, FEMA’s MHU program ends 18 months after a disaster declaration date. This historic flooding in August 2016 created overwhelming challenges for short-term, interim and permanent housing options. Those factors have led to the state’s extension requests.
Here are the latest MHU numbers provided by FEMA in mid-April:
Current MHU Statistics
MHU Background Information
Find more tips on weather and preparedness on GOHSEP’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can receive emergency alerts on most smartphones and tablets by downloading the new Alert FM App. It is free for basic service. The Get A Game Plan App is another resource available to help you and your family prepare for any type of emergency. You can download the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide and find other information at www.getagameplan.org.