Right now, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, city code forbids people from living in RVs or travel trailers in residential areas. But FEMA and several homeowners want that to change, and city leaders are working to make it happen, according to KCRG TV, Cedar Rapids.
The idea comes from a town in Mississippi that did the same thing after Hurricane Katrina. FEMA couldn’t provide enough temporary housing, and people wanted to be close to their homes to rebuild faster.
For the past week, Chrystal Rodriguez’ family of five has already been living out of a travel trailer parked outside of their real home on the southeast side of the city.
She says, “We actually don’t have any water or anything inside there, so we have to go other places to use the facilities or whatever.”
She didn’t know it was illegal to do so. Across Cedar Rapids’ flood zone, dozens of homeowners are doing the same thing. For some, it makes rebuilding easier. For others like the Rodriguez family, the money for hotels simply ran out.
Chrystal’s husband Gonzalo says, “When you don’t have the money, you can stay in your car or stay in this.”
Like many, they’re still waiting on the possibility of funding and housing from FEMA. Cedar Rapids says it wants to open the same option to more flood victims needing a place to stay, but only after it determines the safest and most sensible plan of action.
Mayor Kay Halloran says, “Who is going to be permitted to do this? John Q? Or can they put a trailer on their property and then rent it to somebody?”
The Rodriguez family didn’t wait for the go ahead from the city.
Chrystal says, “Whether they said we could or not, I’m going to do it anyways, because are they going to pay for our hotel room?”
For her family, a 15-foot long trailer with no electricity or water is the only option left.
No word on when the city might make living in an RV or travel trailer legal in flood areas. But it looks like things are moving fast. There has even been talk of skipping the ordinance process and simply making this a proclamation which would then go into effect immediately.