FEMA: Giving disaster survivors the best housing options

The Nov. 26, 2018, op-ed, “Disaster housing recovery: Time for Congress to act,” states FEMA failed to activate all of the housing options at its discretion following the California wildfire, citing the Disaster Housing Assistance Program as one example.

That is completely inaccurate.

The article states that the FEMA administrator could have implemented the program as a means to solve the large and complex disaster housing needs of the state. To help clarify, previous iterations of the program did not meet the housing objectives that were sought and, in fact, were not proven to be cost-effective. In addition to the program being an administrative and financial burden for disaster survivors, its implementation can take anywhere from three to six months.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to address the complex needs of displaced disaster survivors, nor is there one agency that can meet all needs. State and local governments, voluntary agencies, and the private sector are all working together with the federal government to provide a holistic array of options.

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Specifically, FEMA teams continue to work with California Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Office of Emergency Services to assist with possible housing solutions for disaster survivors. Since President TrumpDonald John TrumpActivists highlight Trump ties to foreign autocrats in hotel light display Jose Canseco pitches Trump for chief of staff: ‘Worried about you looking more like a Twinkie everyday’ Dershowitz: Mueller's report will contain 'sins' but no 'impeachable offense' MORE issued a major disaster declaration for the state of California, the agency has approved more than $24 million in grants for disaster survivors affected by wildfires in Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The funding includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs. Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration has granted more than $3 million in low-interest disaster loans to assist with disaster survivors’ recovery needs.

More than 200 California families have used FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, which provides disaster survivors with temporary hotel rooms.

California disaster survivors are also using volunteer sheltering associations like the American Red Cross.

For additional temporary housing, FEMA has manufactured housing units currently staged locally and is working on placing FEMA purchased trailers from local vendors. Both types of units are safe, sanitary, and functional and will assist disaster survivors in their recovery.

Those recovering from the wildfires in California can visit WildfireRecovery.org to find a comprehensive list of disaster programs, resources, and information.      

Lizzie Litzow is press secretary for FEMA.