Biloxi's FEMA trailer residents get 6-month extension

As Facing South reported earlier this week, Hurricane Katrina survivors still living in FEMA trailers in Biloxi faced losing their homes due to a city plan that would have removed FEMA trailers from residential zones in the next 60 days. Tuesday the Biloxi City Council instead voted in a unanimous vote to give FEMA trailer residents another six months to find permanent housing. 

There are 41 families still living in trailers in Biloxi. Earlier this month, following significant protest by Gulf Coast advocates, the Obama administration announced plans to let residents purchase their FEMA trailer homes for as little as $1. But Biloxi's proposed ordinance would have ended the temporary permits issued for FEMA trailers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The city argued that the current FEMA trailers do not meet Biloxi's requirements that homes be designed to withstand 140-mph winds. 

Over the past week, human rights groups and housing advocates joined together against the proposed city ordinance, underscoring that the reason many of the families still remained in FEMA trailers is because these residents have not found an alternative housing option they can afford. Many of these residents are also struggling to rebuild their homes destroyed in the 2005 storms, and housing advocates saw the city's ordinance as a huge setback. 

As housing advocates explained in a press release this week:
[I]f allowed to move forward, [the ordinance] will not only be a major set-back for residents rebuilding their homes and lives in Biloxi, but possibly for residents in other cities looking to enact similar ordinances to force out vulnerable residents still residing in FEMA Trailer but unable to find permanent affordable housing. 
A petition signed by Biloxi citizens, urges the City Council to acknowledge that the proposed ordinance would greatly affect many [residents], especially those with physical disabilities, members of racial minorities, [and] single mothers with children.
Advocates held a press conference Tuesday at the home of a Katrina survivor before they went to protest the proposed ordinance at the council meeting. Advocates welcome the six-month extension, but also still hope to see the city provide more resources to residents still struggling to rebuild.