Time Winds Down For FEMA Trailer Residents

Time is winding down for Gulfport's FEMA trailer residents to find a new place to live, but with the lack of affordable housing, relocation is proving to be a problem. That's why city council leaders had a special workshop to discuss what's next for displaced residents.

The city of Gulfport has already shut down many of its FEMA parks. The deadline to move is December 31, but right now more than 1,700 families are still in FEMA trailers.

"We understand that the city would like to have the parks closed, we totally get that. But we are required to house these people," said one FEMA representative.

FEMA representatives are looking for alternative housing for displaced residents. That's where the problems begin.

FEMA representatives say the city only has 371 rental resources. That's not enough to house half the number of families in need. Factor in higher rental rates, security deposits and background checks, and many residents won't qualify for the housing options that are available.

That's why Gulfport's urban development department has another idea.

"We might want to consider allowing folks to be placed in the Mississippi Cottages in existing trailer and RV parks where there are spaces," said Director for Urban Development Larry Jones.

However, some city officials believe moving cottages where trailers once stood is just another temporary fix.

"If you're taking the FEMA Park and making them into a Katrina Cottage Park, you really haven't changed anything. You still have the same security concerns," said Fire Chief Pat Sullivan.

MEMA leaders disagree. They say the cottage program is more structured, and if residents break the rules, they will be asked to leave.

Now with the deadline quickly approaching, council plans to have a community forum that will inform residents about housing options and hopefully provide a solution. The council is working to have that forum before Christmas.

Also Tuesday's meeting, council members decided not to vote on the future of the Harrison County Library property.

The city is considering selling the beachfront land to the County so Harrison County can maximize FEMA money to build a new library. But some citizens are worried where that new library would be located. The council will vote on the matter next Tuesday.