Trailer Tribulation

by John Hawkins | December 14, 2005 8:09 am

A lot of people, myself included[1], were panning the idea of using trailers to house Katrina victims because of the enormous cost involved. It turns out that not only are they expensive, but — unsurprisingly if you think about it — it takes too long[2] to get the trailers set-up on a large scale to make them a practicable form of temporary housing:

“More than three months after thousands of people lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina, local and federal officials are trading blame over the slow delivery of trailer housing.

“We got a serious situation in St. Bernard Parish,” its president, Henry “Junior” Rodriguez, told CNN on Tuesday.

“We got people living in tents and automobiles. We got people living in barns. We got people living in their houses — in tents,” he said on “American Morning.”

“This is the beginning of winter. This is unacceptable.”

…A site with 50 to 55 trailers is operational, Rodriguez said, and another may be able to handle 45 trailers within a couple days. But the 100 or so trailers fall far short of the 12,000 trailers needed for the number of people estimated to return home, he added.

…Adding to Rodriguez’s frustration is the fact that 1,400 trailers are sitting unused in St. Bernard Parish. The parish ordered them from a private contractor days after the hurricane hit on August 29, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency has not agreed to pay for them.

There are also more than 5,000 FEMA mobile homes in Arkansas sitting unused, CNN has learned.

FEMA responded Tuesday, telling CNN it is ready to deliver 125,000 trailers to the area but that parish officials “still have to identify places to put them.”

The agency said that St. Bernard Parish “has identified 1,000 sites for trailers … 500 of them have already been installed, and the rest are in the works.”

“It is understandable that the process can be frustrating, given that basic services, including electricity, were just recently restored,” FEMA’s statement read.”

If it was pointless to roll in the trailers after Katrina instead of handing out hotel vouchers, it makes even less sense now. It has been more than 3 months since Katrina hit and quite frankly, the government shouldn’t be providing more than another 3 months of free housing, tops.

After all, if your house burns down tomorrow or you lose your job and can’t pay the rent, is the government going to give you a free trailer? No, you’re expected — and rightly so — to take care of yourself. So, for the government to dole out free housing for 6 months to Katrina victims is more than reasonable.

That’s why the Feds should forget about the trailers, grab the people living in “tents,” “automobiles,” and “barns” and hand them 3 months worth of hotel vouchers. It would be cheaper, more efficient, and it would save time…

  1. myself included:
  2. takes too long:

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