FEMA trailers must go, residents are told
Fines could start piling up, FEMA and N.O. say
Friday, March 11, 2011 By Michelle KrupaStaff writer
Louisiana residents still living in FEMA trailers must relocate by April 30 or face fines of $800 a month and possible eviction, according to a letter sent recently to more than 400 households statewide.
The penalty could be even more severe in New Orleans, where City Hall recently began notifying trailer occupants that they could be fined an additional $500 a day, up to $15,575, if they don't remove the units from their property, Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin said Thursday.
City law prohibits trailers across the city except in a few designated areas. The rules, which were suspended after Hurricane Katrina, have been back in effect since July 2008.
The number of FEMA trailers in the city has dwindled from a high of 23,314 to 168 occupied units this week, Kopplin said.
While that amounts to less than 1 percent of the one-time total, neighbors continue to complain that the trailers are eyesores and hindering the recovery.
"The message is that now is the time for folks in those 168 trailers to take advantage of the housing options that the city is giving them," Kopplin said.
State and federal case workers have been assisting families still living in trailers, though the expensive rental market and the specialized needs of elderly and disabled residents have posed challenges. At the program's peak, FEMA had issued about 92,000 trailers statewide, according to the agency.
In December and again in January, City Hall notified residents still living in trailers that they would face hearings and fines if they didn't abandon the units. Hearing notifications will go out next week to 50 households, with an additional 50 to follow every two weeks until every case has been set, Kopplin said.
The first cases are expected to be heard March 28, he said.
Meanwhile, FEMA officials have notified trailer occupants several times that the temporary housing program was slated to end May 1, 2009.