Pryor: FEMA is Wrong to Withhold Homes For Hurricane Evacuees; Introduces Legislation to Send Thousands of Homes to Gulf Region
WASHINGTON D.C. - Senator Mark Pryor today will introduce legislation that would allow the thousands of manufactured homes built for hurricane victims to be sent to families in Louisiana and Mississippi. He said the homes - ordered by FEMA, paid for by FEMA, now sit in a FEMA-leased site in Hope, AR - only to be restricted for use in the Gulf region because of a FEMA-imposed rule.
Pryor said his legislation, the Hope Housing Act of 2006, would provide thousands of hurricane evacuees a place to live where they could then begin to rebuild their lives, communities and local economies. Specifically, Pryor's legislation would waive the FEMA regulation prohibiting manufactured homes from being located in floodplains, protect FEMA from responsibility if the homes are subsequently flooded and direct FEMA to publicize this change so victims know they are available. He added that this one-time fix is only applicable to the manufactured homes built for evacuees of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"We have people without homes, and homes without people. FEMA is wrong to withhold these homes from families struggling to rebuild their lives and communities," Pryor said. "The alternative seems to be to let the homes sit and deteriorate in Arkansas, and that is simply unacceptable."
Pryor said the 10,777 manufactured homes collecting dust in Hope, AR epitomizes FEMA's ineptitude in planning, communication and response. He cited the estimated $475 million taxpayers spent to build the homes for evacuees, as well as the $4-7 million FEMA is expected to pay a company to gravel the site. The Senator added that although the homes were built to FEMA's high wind zone 3 specifications, the agency has refused to waive its regulation.
"Taxpayers have spent millions to provide shelter for our neighbors in need, only to see these homes sit gridlocked in FEMA's bureaucracy. This waste is particularly outrageous as evacuees are evicted from hotel rooms and thousands of others struggle to find affordable housing," Pryor said.