Shelter at Home program surges while mobile home process remains slow

(Photo Credit: WAFB)
(Photo Credit: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Housing is still a big concern for residents in south Louisiana more than a month since the historic flooding.

Thousands have applied to receive a manufactured housing unit (MHU) from FEMA. However, as of Thursday, only 169 people have moved into one.

While the numbers are up from the 100 units that were being used a week ago, it is still a far cry from where the program hopes to be.

Tito Hernandez, a spokesman for FEMA, said most of the delay has come from the inspection process.

“We’re inspecting hundreds of sites for suitability. We have to deliver the units to the sites, but we have to inspect those units before we take them out of the staging area when we put them in the site whether it’s a commercial or private site,” he said.

So far, there are 557 units in the area, but the inspections do not happen overnight. In many cases, it takes several days or even weeks for inspectors to find a suitable location for the units.

“It’s not a fast process,” Hernandez added. “It’s a process that takes two to three weeks to complete.”

The state’s Shelter at Home program though is speeding along. As of Thursday, about 20,000 households were registered with the program. More than 16,000 of those homes are eligible for inspection and roughly 5,000 have been cleared for construction.

“Inspections are being scheduled and occurring,” said GOHSEP spokesman Casey Tingle. “Construction is being started and being worked and we continue to look at how we expedite and improve the process to get all of that construction completed and final inspections done.”

With more than 340 crews out in the community, the Shelter at Home program has been able to hit roughly 500 homes each day.

As FEMA continues to improve the MHU process, they are asking for continued patience from residents.

“We’re not perfect. We’re going to have some folks that are going to fall through the cracks. For that, we have an appeal process,” Hernandez added.

Residents can contact FEMA by calling 1 (800) 621-3362 or contact GOHSEP by calling 1 (800) 927-0216.

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