Displaced victims of Hurricane Charley, which ravaged southwest Florida last summer, are faced with limited housing opportunities, according to a report in the Sun Herald.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) distributed a list of nearly 240 rental properties, but most are well beyond the price range of people living in temporary travel trailers and mobile homes.
“If I could afford some of these, I wouldn’t be living in this trailer,” said Robert Lewis, who has been living in a travel trailer provided by FEMA since the storm hit.
The resource list is being handed out during FEMA’s monthly checkup visits to track the progress people are making in finding permanent housing. The paper reported that prices for available rental property range from $400 a month to $1,800 a month.
Jose Estero, a spokesman for the State Emergency Response Team, explained that FEMA’s responsibilty was to provide temporary aid to victims.
“This was never supposed to be permanent, and we want to help them, but we can only help so much,” Estero said.
The problem is that the housing market in the area is stretched and affordable housing is virtually nonexistent.
Charlotte County, which took the brunt of Hurricane Charley’s devastation, will be receiving more than $30 million in state and federal grants to revitalize the affordable housing market. Unfortunately, the money will not be able to replace 85% of the market lost or heavily damaged during the storm.
Meanwhile, people who lost their homes have limited options and the help available from FEMA runs out after providing the list.
According to FEMA regulations, if people have to stay in temporary housing longer than 18 months the agency will ask them to pay rent.
FEMA mobile homes may be sold to a disaster victim, but the agency does not sell travel trailers provided as temporary housing. Those trailers are being sold at public auction.