FEMA to provide direct temporary housing and other options in SWFL counties

Published: October 26, 2022 10:55 AM EDT
Updated: October 27, 2022 5:39 AM EDT

FEMA now says it will provide direct temporary housing in Southwest Florida counties affected by Hurricane Ian.

Gov. Ron DeSantis made an announcement on Fort Myers Beach about the temporary housing.

“Now, FEMA’s direct housing program will not be able to meet every household’s needs. So I’m also announcing a state-lead housing mission to provide travel trailers and recreational vehicles to impacted Floridians who may not be eligible for FEMA’s programs,” DeSantis said. “Our goal with these programs is for families to live on their own properties if they so choose while repairs to their homes are performed.”

FEMA said it previously approved rental assistance but it determined it was insufficient to meet the housing need because of a lack of available housing resources.

“FEMA is committed to helping Hurricane Ian survivors get a safe roof over their heads to jumpstart their recovery as quickly as possible,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Tom McCool. “To assist these households, FEMA is providing travel trailers and larger manufactured housing units to eligible households in four counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto and Lee.”

FEMA said it will notify applicants who are eligible for direct housing.

“It will take time to transport, permit, install and inspect these units before they are available,” FEMA said in a press release.

Some who could benefit from temporary housing say it’s too little too late.

Their houses haven’t been livable for a month so they got up and went, moving in with friends or renting an apartment in a different city.

WINK News reached out to FEMA to ask when the housing will be available.

They have not provided a definitive answer.

The Direct Housing program provides three primary options:

  • Multi-Family Lease and Repair, where FEMA enters into a lease agreement with the owner of multi-family rental
    properties (three or more units) and makes repairs to provide temporary housing for applicants.
  • Transportable Temporary Housing Units such as a travel trailer or manufactured home.
  • Direct Lease, which is leasing existing ready-for-occupancy housing.

The Direct Temporary Housing Assistance will be provided for up to 18 months beginning from Sept. 29, 2022, and run until March 28, 2024.

According to the press release, direct temporary housing takes significant time to implement and is not an immediate solution for a survivor’s interim and longer-term housing needs. Additionally, not everyone impacted by the disaster will be eligible for direct housing.

Survivors who have applied to FEMA for assistance do not need to reapply to be eligible for direct temporary housing assistance.

To apply, go online to DisasterAssistance.gov, use the FEMA app for smartphones or call 800-621-3362. Help is available in most languages. If you use a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, give FEMA the number for that service. Lines are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.

However, in addition to all of that, FEMA is also offering rental options.

Direct Lease and Multi-family lease and repair are the two other options FEMA is offering.

A direct lease is where FEMA would enter into a lease agreement with a vacation rental property owner. Whereas a multi-family lease and repair would involve properties that may have been damaged by the storm.

FEMA pays for repairs to be made in exchange, those properties then become temporary housing for hurricane survivors.

WINK News spoke with Joseph Winpisinger, a shelter resident, who thinks property owners will jump at the opportunity.

“All government money is good money if it’s free. What property owner is going to pass up federal money it’s risk versus reward if they let them in they could really damage it OK but if the government’s paying for it so what it’s free money I say no-brainer,” Winpisinger said.

A task force consisting of FEMA, state, and local officials are working to identify properties that fit the bill.

If you own property and are interested, FEMA wants to hear from you.

Click here if you are a landlord or property owner to submit an application, which must be done by Nov. 9.