Nearly 18,000 occupants of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) travel trailers and mobile homes in Louisiana have shown interested in purchasing their units, the agency has reported.
In an effort to help displaced residents of hurricanes Katrina and Rita with their continued housing needs, FEMA began offering the units for sale to occupants in April 2007. Since then, FEMA mailed out more than 50,000 letters to temporary housing occupants announcing the program.
FEMA caseworkers are now in the process of contacting interested applicants on a case-by-case basis, explaining the eligibility requirements and the steps applicants must take in order to purchase their unit.
The “Sales to Occupants” program carries several requirements for eligibility. Individuals must:
–Be eligible for the FEMA Disaster Housing Assistance Program as a result of being displaced from their primary residence due to disaster damage.
–Currently have a FEMA unit in their possession that is officially assigned to them.
–Be listed on the FEMA registration as an applicant or co-applicant.
–Once a FEMA sales representative has contacted an occupant and deemed them eligible, then it is up to the individual to take the next steps. When purchasing the unit, the applicant must abide by the following conditions:
–Contact their local parish and municipality permitting offices to ask about permitting requirements.
–Obtain local permits or inspections and provide copies to FEMA.
–Pay all applicable state sales taxes and any other applicable costs.
–Accept all responsibility and liability.
Occupants in FEMA group sites will be responsible for moving the unit to another location within 30 days of completion of the sale.
Occupants in commercial sites, currently leased by FEMA, will be responsible for obtaining a pad lease agreement from the park owner. A signed copy of the lease must be submitted to FEMA, prior to the sale. If the unit will not be kept at the current location, then an alternate site must be identified, prior to the sale. The site and permitting information must be submitted to FEMA.
Applicants must comply with local floodplain management ordinances if the selected site is located within a designated Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). If the applicant is purchasing their mobile home, the community may require the individual to elevate the unit. Applicants must also agree to obtain hazard insurance for the unit, including flood insurance if the unit is or will be located in a designated SFHA.
Potential buyers must comply with their local governments’ regulations. For example, after being determined eligible by FEMA, a travel trailer occupant in St. Tammany Parish must contact the parish’s planning and zoning department to see if the property where the unit will be placed is zoned for a travel trailer. They must also contact the Department of Environmental Services at 985-898-2535 to find out what type of sanitary facilities will be required.
If the above criteria are met, the next step is to obtain a permit. For example, the St. Tammany permit department requires the following information:
–Completed permit application
–Legal description of the property
–Survey including flood elevation information
–State Board of Health approval on individual water wells and sewerage systems
–Floor plan showing entrances/exits, windows and rooms.
In addition to following the parish’s procedures, an applicant will be required to comply with their municipality’s rules and regulations. It is important to note that these differ in every parish and municipality. Occupants should contact the parish and municipality where they intend to place their trailer or mobile home to get the specifics.
For information on parish permits and zoning, residents can log on to the directory of Louisiana municipalities at http://www.lma.org/municipal_directory/municipal_directory.pdf or contact the individual parish offices using the attached phone list.
For basic questions about the “Sales to Occupants” program, applicants can call FEMA’s call center at 1-888-294-2822 (TTY: 1-800-462-7585).
Source: FEMA, www.fema.gov/.
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