Gov. Barbour Wants More Time For FEMA Trailers

Governor Haley Barbour is asking for more time for thousands of Mississippians still living in FEMA trailers. Right now, there is a February 28th deadline for residents to move out of FEMA trailers and into permanent housing. On Monday, a spokesperson said the governor has sent FEMA a letter asking that the deadline be pushed back until February of 2008.

Right now 26,427 Mississippians are living in FEMA trailers. Another 4,961 are in mobile homes with 84 percent set up on private property.

"I can't find anything right now," said Mary Jane Nixon, a FEMA trailer resident who has been looking for a place to rent. "It's hard because they don't have very many left to stay in."

In a December 5th letter to FEMA, Governor Haley Barbour blames Mississippi's housing shortage for making it impossible for most FEMA trailers residents to move out before the deadline.

He writes, "It's clear that the Temporary Direct Housing Program cannot be executed and completed within the current time frame..."

The Governor wants the federal government to give trailer residents another year until February 2008. It's a request the Mayor of Biloxi says is necessary.

"When we first started with Katrina with the trailers, it was going to be for 18 months with a possible six month extension. Circumstances are such that a lot of people are not ready to make the transition into a permanent home," Mayor A.J. Holloway said.

The Governor's request for more time surprised Harrison County Board of Supervisors President Connie Rockco.

"I know that we did, in good faith, allow the FEMA trailers to be placed without public hearings, and so I'm sure there will be some concern as to the year extension," said Rockco.

Rockco says while some people will make good use of the time, she worries others will abuse it.

"We do understand the importance of housing, however, we do understand too that if they have free rent, that's also no incentive to move to another area," she said.

On Monday, a FEMA spokesperson said the agency has received the Governor's request and is taking it under consideration.