The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is offering displaced Florida residents still living in travel trailers or mobile homes provided after Hurricane Charley in 2004 the chance to purchase the units.
The Charlotte Sun-Herald reported that purchases are being handled on a “case-by-case basis,” according to FEMA public information specialist Jim Homstad. “Let me emphasize that. Nothing is automatic,” he said.
Currently, 127 FEMA units have been sold to Florida occupants and 468 other occupants have met the criteria to buy their mobile home or travel trailers.
Homstad said the bottom-line price will depend on their ability to pay, and after they’ve been approved, it will be 30 to 45 days before they can take permanent possession of their new home.
To qualify, an occupant must be unable to find or afford to rent another dwelling. Both former homeowners and former renters are eligible to buy their units, he said. If a destroyed home is being rebuilt, however, that homeowner is not eligible.
Additionally, they must have a place to relocate the unit. It has to meet all local, state and federal codes and can’t be located in a 100-year flood plain area unless safety measures are taken.
Homstad also said more than one unit could be purchased by a FEMA renter. If a large number of family members are living in a FEMA trailer, those people might be able to buy two trailers.
For this program, only present occupants of FEMA trailers are eligible. FEMA is also selling used units – often gutted by occupants – through government auctions on the Internet or refurbishing the trailers for reuse in other emergencies.
When a mobile home or trailer is vacated, FEMA reclaims the unit and moves it to a staging area, Homstad explained.
“If the basic structure of the mobile home or travel trailer is found to be in good shape, FEMA will replace whatever needs replacement in the unit to make it livable,” Homstad said. “FEMA will automatically replace the beds or mattresses, but they will also replace, if necessary, the appliances, cabinets, etc. Basically, FEMA will do what it takes, in terms of replacement, to make the unit safe, sanitary and as comfortable as possible.”
At that point, however, the unit is not for sale. It heads back into service. Since March 1, FEMA has sent 650 refurbished Florida units to the Upper Gulf Coast, devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.