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Though another hurricane season starts in four weeks, the coastal community of Venice, Fla., continues to host homeless people from last year’s storms.
According to the Venice Gondolier, City Manager Marty Black said he wants to make sure that those people still within city limits are living in something more than a trailer parked in an open field.
Permits allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to house more than 300 families in northeastern Venice expire May 31.
Black hasn’t decided whether FEMA will be granted another extension. The latest count the city manager has received shows fewer than 100 families living in the park as FEMA continues to search for more permanent housing.
“The city’s goal is to have these people in much better housing than RV trailers by the start of hurricane season (June 1),” Black said. “Right now, (FEMA) has been very cooperative, so we’ll evaluate them based on their good-faith efforts.”
Some in the community painted the city manager as the villain in January when he hesitated to extend permits and threatened fines.
Black said he was trying to address serious deficiencies going on at the former Stay-N-Play Resort that included inadequate fire protection and the pressing need to find better housing.
Neither FEMA or J&J Homes, owner of the land FEMA is renting, contacted the city in January to extend the permits. Black said he had not received so much as a phone call until newspaper reports surfaced.
Many of these communication problems have not recurred, Black said.
“It’s been a good working relationship compared to where we were,” Black said.
Improved fire protection came in the form of 2,000 gallons of water stored on the 407-acre site to be used as a tanker truck refill if a fire breaks out. The cost for creating the storage facility was left up to the land owner and FEMA.