The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is checking whether thousands of families in Mississippi and Louisiana are eligible for the government-issued trailers they’re living in, but officials have stepped back from evicting hundreds of the families.
The Associated Press reported that in Mississippi, FEMA sent out “termination notices” to around 500 of the 3,000 families the agency suspected were ineligible for travel trailers intended for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina, according to agency spokesman Eugene Brezany.
Those letters, mailed in late April and early May, notified families that they had 30 days to vacate their trailers and 60 days to appeal the agency’s ruling. Brezany said the agency has stopped mailing those notices – and the deadlines for families to vacate trailers no longer apply.
Instead, FEMA is meeting individually with families to determine whether they are eligible or must move out of their trailers and find more permanent housing.
Some residents are not eligible for FEMA trailers because their “primary residence” was not destroyed by Katrina or they are not legally in the country, according to Brezany. Others may have received multiple trailers when they were eligible for only one.
More than 38,000 families in Mississippi are living in FEMA trailers or mobile homes. They are allowed to live in them for up to 18 months after the Aug. 29 hurricane.
Moselle resident Nell Wooten said no one from FEMA has sent her a letter questioning her eligibility for the trailer the agency set up in November in front of her storm-damaged home.
“They gave me a contract for 18 months, and I will need it that long,” she said.
In Louisiana, FEMA has checked several thousand of around 75,000 trailers and mobile homes to see if occupants are eligible to live there. Only a “small percentage” of them were deemed ineligible for FEMA assistance and given 30 days to vacate their trailers, agency spokesman Ross Fredenburg said.