June 19th is an important date for people hoping to get out of FEMA trailers. That's when leaders in Pass Christian, Long Beach and Ocean Springs will consider how the state's Alternative Housing Program will fit into their cities.
Starting in a few weeks, almost 5,000 cottages will replace FEMA trailers around South Mississippi. Waveland has already signed off to take part in the program with some restrictions.
This weekend Anita Gallagher's family will move out of this FEMA trailer and into a new house, an option she says many other Waveland residents don't have right now. Gallagher's hometown is one of the few that has approved the state program that will move some of those families into cottages.
"They put in housing ordinances or ordinances for how much square footage you should have in certain areas so I can understand cities getting upset about saying 'Yes, you're going to live in a little small cottage,'" said Gallagher. "But I think in today's circumstances, it's necessary to get people out of these trailers."
Waveland's mayor sees the Mississippi Alternative Housing Program as a way to get more families living in trailers into more sturdy homes, but with stipulations.
Mayor Tommy Longo said, "The camp models, the smaller version, will not be allowed to be permanent after the 18 months. But, you know, we have so many people that are still in FEMA trailers, we are anxious to get people into something that's more stable, especially with hurricane season being here. These Mississippi cottages are certainly more aesthetically pleasing to the community than the FEMA trailers are."
Mayor Longo says there will be restrictions on where the cottages can go.
"We're not creating any Mississippi cottage parks or doing one for one in the FEMA trailer parks. That can't happen. They have to go onto people's property, existing property."
Since the cottages are given out by lottery, Mayor Longo doesn't know how many residents of Waveland's 600 FEMA trailers will get one, but he says a cottage to definitely a step up.
Pass Christian, Gulfport, Waveland, Ocean Springs, Harrison County, Jackson County, Gautier, D'Iberville have not yet approved the Alternative Housing Program
Biloxi, Moss Point, Pascagoula, Waveland, and Hancock County have given approval.
We were unable to get the information from Bay St. Louis.
Learn more about the Mississippi Alternative Housing Program by calling 1-866-726-MAHP(6247) or visiting www.mscottage.org.