FEMA wants hurricane survivors waiting for a housing unit to answer their phones.
“That unknown number may just be a FEMA caseworker,” FEMA spokesperson Gerard Hammink said emphatically. “And, if they miss that call, please, call back.”
FEMA is assisting survivors of Hurricanes Laura and Delta with its direct temporary housing program. Hammink said the dearth of rental options in Calcasieu was the deciding factor in using their direct housing and direct lease programs locally.
More than 4,500 households in the region have found their own housing solutions, but many are still in need of direct housing assistance.
Hammink said that, as of Thursday of this week, 695 households in Calcasieu Parish have FEMA units — 471 Calcasieu Parish homeowners have FEMA units, either on their own property or in a park. Additionally, 253 parish residents who were renting are living in a FEMA unit.
“FEMA really tries to put units on a survivor’s property, but that doesn’t always work,” said Hammink. “Then we work with them to try and find the next best option.”
Hammink said FEMA has leased pads in nine Sulphur parks, thus far. One park is being used in Moss Bluff and one in Westlake.
Through its direct lease program, FEMA has an agreement with Mosswood Estates in Sulphur to lease up to 300 units for temporary housing for families displaced by the storms. So far FEMA has leased 75 units and 26 families are living at Mosswood.
“FEMA will lease more units as Mosswood completes repairs and preparation and as FEMA case workers line up families for the appropriate units,” continued Hammink.
FEMA expects to provide temporary housing to around 3,000 Southwest Louisiana families total — 800 of which have already been placed in housing units.
FEMA checks in with families in their programs every 14 to 30 days to determine if assistance is still necessary. Caseworkers will provide families with the information and tools needed to develop a long-term housing plan.
Hammink said if FEMA, and local and state officials, see the need for continued assistance beyond the 18 months following the disaster declaration, survivors may be eligible for a month-to-month extension, if the survivors have followed all eligibility requirements.
“To remain eligible, they must follow all the conditions of the agreement with FEMA, such as taking care of the unit, regularly meeting with their case worker, and most importantly progressing towards a permanent housing plan,” said Hammink.
Applications for continued financial rental assistance will be mailed to homeowners. Renters can call the FEMA helpline to request an application. However, renters should first contact their previous landlord to find out if they will be permitted to move back into their former dwellings.
For more information download the FEMA Mobile App at fema.gov/about/news-multimedia/app or get a link to download it via text messaging on an Android device (text ANDROID to 43362) or Apple device (text APPLE to 43362).